Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless Tongan, reaches third Olympics after taekwondo qualifier win

The famed shirtless Tongan flag bearer will be at the Olympics once again later this year.
The famed shirtless Tongan flag bearer will be at the Olympics once again later this year. (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

For a third straight time, the shirtless Tongan flag bearer is headed back to the Olympics.

Pita Taufatofua clinched a spot in taekwondo in Australia on Saturday at a qualifying event after beating Papua New Guinea’s Steven Tommy in the Oceania qualifying event. Per USA Today, they were the only two competitors in their weight class.

“Looks like we’re going to need more coconut oil,” Taufatofua wrote. “Tonga is going to Tokyo.”

Taufatofua first competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and quickly rose to fame during the opening ceremony when he carried the small island nation’s flag shirtless covered in oil. He returned to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, to compete in cross-country skiing, and carried the flag shirtless once again despite extremely cold temperatures.

Taufatofua had set the goal to qualify in three different events for the 2020 Games, which are slated to start on July 24 in Tokyo — though they may be in jeopardy due to the spreading coronavirus. Per USA Today, he will attempt to qualify again in sprint kayak later this spring.

He attempted to qualify for the event once already last year, but struggled to simply keep his kayak straight. He tried again earlier this month, but wrote on Instagram that he injured his rib during competition and couldn’t keep up.

Regardless of how the rest of his qualifiers go, Taufatofua has clinched his ticket to Tokyo.

When it comes time for the opening ceremony, he’ll almost certainly be carrying the Tongan flag once again.

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