The Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Games gives viewers the opportunity to learn a little about many of the nations competing, thanks in part to the parade of nations into the Olympic Stadium. The interesting outfits worn by the competitors makes for entertaining conversation, but in the case of one flag bearer it was his lack of clothing that made for spirited conversation.
32-year old Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, who fell short in his goal to qualify for the Olympics in taekwondo twice before accomplishing that goal for Rio, led Tonga’s delegation into the Maracanã Stadium Friday night wearing the traditional ta’ovala (Tongan mat).
On a night in which multiple delegations donned interesting traditional outfits, it was the man with an oiled-up body wearing a ta’ovala who stole the show on social media. According to USA TODAY, the idea of wearing the nation’s traditional outfit was Taufatofua’s alone.
“This is the first time Tonga has done something like that,” Taufatofua’s friend Jacinta Sitapa told USA TODAY Friday night. “It was important to Pita. He is very patriotic and loves Tongan culture. He didn’t know if he was going to be picked to carry the flag, but if he did he strongly felt that it should be something that represented the country.”