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.”
Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus
Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.
Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.
The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.
Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.
Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.
The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.
In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.
Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall
Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.
Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.
Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.
“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”
Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.
Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.
“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.
“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”