Viral Tonga Olympic flag bearer Pita Taufatofua was very much a part of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s two-day visit to the Polynesian kingdom this week.
So much so that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wore the traditional Tongan garb that Taufatofua made famous at the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.
“Harry and Meghan making my Olympic outfit look good!” was posted on Taufatofua’s social media.
Taufatofua was in the background of images of the royal couple inspecting the dress. Taufatofua said on social media that he met them.
The 34-year-old has said he plans a Tokyo 2020 Olympic run in a new sport aligned with water, but he has not revealed what the sport is. He also guaranteed that he will earn a medal in Tokyo should he qualify.
Taufatofua became a viral hit for his shirtless, oiled-up debut at the Rio Opening Ceremony, then lost in the first round via mercy rule in the taekwondo tournament.
He made a quixotic bid to qualify for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient requirements for nations with a lack of winter sports depth.
Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.
If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang.
“When I went to Rio, I was told by some of our own people [dignitaries], don’t wear this, don’t wear that,” Taufatofua said. “We want you to wear a suit and a tie. I said no. I said, you were taught to wear that suit and that tie 50 years ago. I said, my ancestors go back 1,000 years. I want to wear what they wore because I’m representing them when I carry that flag. They said no, so we carried it in our bags and hid it under our uniforms when we walked in the backstages of Rio and pulled it out when they had no chance to kick us off the team. Then, afterwards, they [other people] said, whose idea was it? They [the Tongan officials] said it was ours. It was all of ours.”
The PyeongChang uniform was headed for the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The Rio one was placed on his wall at home.
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