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Shirtless Tonga flag bearer Pita Taufatofua competes in 2020 Olympics

The name Pita Taufatofua may not ring a bell to most people, but one quick search of his name on Google Images and you may remember him.

The two-time Olympic athlete became a viral sensation, just not for what he did competing, but rather his shirtless, oiled up body at the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang. 

But while Taufatofua may be known as Olympic eye-candy, he’s much more than that. He’s a UNICEF ambassador, a man trying to inspire all of Oceania and now a three-time Olympian.

That’s right, Taufatofua will be in Tokyo for this year’s Games.

After making the jump to cross-country skiing for the Winter Games, the 37-year-old will once again compete in taekwondo after qualifying last year. Since he qualified before the pandemic began, it’s been an intense year for Taufatofua to keep training, as he has been quarantining in Australia since last March.

“We haven’t been able to go to any other countries to do any competition to compete against other people,” Taufatofua told USA TODAY. “There were other challenges, but there’s no victory without first going through the battles.”

His goal? To be the first person to qualify for three different Olympics in three different sports, with his eyes set on the sprint kayak – he’s been training for nearly two years. 

However, days before the Oceania qualification tournament, Taufatofua broke a rib, which made it difficult to place. Luckily, there was another opportunity to qualify in Russia, but COVID travel restrictions resulted in him unable to make it.



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