Pita Taufatofua

Pita Taufatofua, Shirtless Tongan Olympic Icon, Will Skip Winter Olympics

Pita Taufatofua, who became an icon for marching in the last three Opening Ceremony events shirtless and oiled up, will skip Beijing

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga's most well known flag bearer, leads the Tonga delegation during the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics respectively.
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He's become an Olympic icon - summer or winter, marching in the Opening Ceremony shirtless and heavily oiled.

But Tonga's Pita Taufatofua says he'll be sitting out the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

"This time I will not be sharing the Beijing Olympic games with you all. But I continue with joy as I prepare to support all the Olympians who have worked so hard to represent their countries," Taufatofua said in an Instagram post late Wednesday -- naturally, shirtless in the snow.

Shirtless Tongan Icon

Taufatofua, who competes in taekwondo and cross-country skiing, became an icon with his unexpected appearance at the 2016 Games. He returned in 2018 and 2021, to much public adulation.

But tragedy struck between Tokyo and now -- Taufatofua's island home was devastated by a volcanic eruption last month, one of the most powerful in recorded history.

He has been busy since fundraising for the islands and helping to organize relief missions to delivery necessary supplies.

"Right now I have another task that calls me, I must answer," he said on Instagram.

But he didn't close the door on his Olympic career, saying "Paris next" in response to a question on his post.

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