Tonga’s shirtless flag bearer meets his Vanuatu rival – sending twitter fans into frenzy


Two Pacific flag bearers in their traditional attire and well-oiled bodies sent twitter fans into frenzy at the opening of the 32nd Olympics in Tokyo Friday night.

Not only Twitter fans but the international media featured the two Pacific athletes in their coverage of the opening ceremonies.

Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, dubbed the ‘shirtless’ flag bearer once again became an internet sensation – three times in a row – carrying his island kingdom’s flag at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea

He was on USA Today saying, “When we’re walking out, we’re representing a country. We’re not representing 80 years of history, we have to represent hundreds and hundreds of years of history.

“Maybe it’s a time for everyone in the world to listen to what us native and cultural people have had to offer.”

Taufatofua, 37, is making his third consecutive Olympic appearance. He also competed in taekwondo in 2016 before qualifying for the 2018 Winter Games in cross-country skiing.

Tonga's flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua
Tonga’s flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua

He was carrying the flag alongside Malia Paseka, who will be also be competing in taekwondo.

Here are some comments trending on Twitter immediately after Tonga’s march past at the opening ceremony.

“Tonga’s oily flag bearer is one of the greatest Olympics stories ever!
“Tonga wins flag bearer competition!
“Once again the Tongan flag bearer did not disappoint”
“A lot has changed in the world since then, but thankfully some things – including Taufatofua’s shiny 6 pack – remains the same. Tonga’s well-oiled sports machine is back on the Olympics stage – and viewers are loving it!

Not to be outdone, Vanuatu’s flag bearer, Riilio Rii gave Tonga’s Taufatofua a run for his money.

FOX News described Rii the ‘the new heartthrob’ at the forefront of the Olympics opening ceremonies on Friday.

“While fans watching the Games were going gaga over Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, Rii carried the flag shirtless in Tokyo and appeared to be just as buff and chiselled as the Tongan taekwondo star, said American Fox News.

These are comments trending on twitter;

“Tonga’s flag bearer gets a rival in Vanuatu’s flag bearer #OpeningCeremony
“Vanuatu has its own shirtless and oiled up flag bearer!
“The Vanuatu flag bearer and shirtless too!

Rii who competes in the Men’s single 2000m single scull rowing event, came third in the repechage race today (Saturday 24 July) pushing him to a final race to determine final bottom rankings for the Olympics. The 27-year-old is veteran rower with ten years of experience.

PACNEWS coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is made possible with travel support through a long standing partnership with the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC)