Tongan flagbearer explodes over the internet as kingdom’s seven member team marches in Rio

    Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatofua stole the show at today’s Olympic opening in Rio.

    The part time model appeared in a traditional vala ngatu and a lot of Tongan made oil, causing something of a sensation on the internet, with media outlets all over the world picking up on his appearance.

    Taufatofua is the kingdom’s first taekwondo competitor at Olympic level.

    When not working as a model he is a youth counsellor in Brisbane.

    Born in Australia to a Tongan father and Australia mother, he moved to the island kingdom as an infant. He could have represented either country, but chose to compete for Tonga.

    He qualified for the Games in April, after failing to make the grade twice before.

    The Fiji Times said that while pursuing his dream of competing in the Olympics he broke six bones, tore three ligaments, spent three months in a wheelchair, a year and a half on crutches and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy.

    Since his appearance at the opening ceremony, his new fans have wasted no time in posting photographs of him.

    Taufatofua seems to be no stranger to posting photographs of himself as the number of topless shots of him that have suddenly been reproduced on social media appear to testify.

    He will compete in the men’s +80kg division on August 20.

    Tonga’s only Olympic medal was won by boxer Paea Wolfgramm in the Men’s Super Heavyweight division at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

    He is one of seven athletes competing for Tonga in Rio.

    The other members of the team are Amini Fonua (swimming), Siueni Filimone (athletics), Arne Jensen (archery), Taina Halasim (USA Today)a (athletics), Irene Prescott (swimming) and Lusitania Tatafu (archery).

    They marched fully clothed.

    The main points

    • Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatofua stole the show at today’s Olympic opening in Rio.
    • The part time model appeared in a traditional taʻovala and a lot of baby oil, causing something of a sensation on the internet, with media outlets all over the world picking up on his appearance.
    • Taufatofua is the kingdom’s first taekwondo competitor at Olympic level.
    • He is one of seven athletes competing for Tonga in Rio.

    For more information

    Opening Ceremony: Who is Tonga’s bare-chested flag bearer?

    Introducing the Tonga flagbearer who glistened during Rio Olympic opening ceremony (USA Today)

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