Tonga's Flag Bearer Wears Body Oil and No Shirt to the Pyeongchang Olympics Opening Ceremony

Andrea Park
Teen Vogue
In below-freezing temps.

Tonga's Flag Bearer Wears Body Oil and No Shirt to the Pyeongchang Olympics Opening Ceremony

In below-freezing temps.

During the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Friday, temperatures dipped well below freezing. Understandably, athletes and spectators bundled up as warmly as they possibly could in parkas, beanies, and winter boots. Almost every athlete, that is: Pita Taufatofua, the flag-bearer from Tonga who went viral during the 2016 Summer Olympics for arriving in Rio positively glistening with body oil, made a gold medal-worthy return to the Games by opting once again to cover himself in his trusty body oil instead of, you know, the warmest sweater he could find.

Pita, the only Tongan athlete in Pyeongchang this year and the Pacific island's second ever competitor at a Winter Games, strutted into the opening ceremony with a tiny posse of three (appropriately bundled-up) fellow Tongans. He wore a red and black striped grass skirt, sandals, and literally nothing else — besides copious amounts of body oil, of course. He dramatically waved a huge Tongan flag and smiled hugely as he and his squad made their way around South Korea's Olympic Stadium.

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At the 2016 Olympics, Pita competed in Taekwondo, but lost to Iran's Sajjad Mardani in his very first match. It wasn't until he returned from Brazil that Pita decided to pick up a new sport and try to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games — despite that fact that it has never snowed in Tonga. (Ever.) "After Rio, I decided to find the hardest sport possible, because I needed a new challenge, and the hardest sport possible was cross-country skiing," he told the Olympic Channel last month, according to Time. "You know, look at the conditions, it's, like, freezing, it's negative 1,000,000 degrees, and then you've got to put your body through something really challenging." Pita, who saw snow for the first time this year, reportedly trained for the event on roller skis, crowdfunded his journey to the Games, and qualified on his seventh attempt, on the last day of Olympic trials in Iceland.

"We sacrificed everything to be here," he told the Olympic Channel after learning he had qualified for the Winter Olympics. "Financially, I'm in the worst position ever, but I'm the happiest ever. People don't see the hard work that goes behind, they just see the shiny guy that walks with the flag."

Pita has yet to announce whether he'll also be going sans shirt at the cross-country skiing competition — maybe all that body oil will make him more aerodynamic? What we do know for sure: The internet is on his side.

Related: Training for the Olympics Actually Involves a Lot of Sleep

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