The Tongan Flag Bearer Showed Up For The Closing Ceremony As Oily As Ever — PHOTOS
At the closing ceremony for the 2016 Olympics at Rio's Maracana stadium Sunday night, Tonga's flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, made the briefest of appearances — and he didn't disappoint. Sure, Taufatofua didn't do so well while competing in taekwondo this Olympics, but what he lacks in medals we can only imagine he will make up in coconut oil endorsement deals. His shiny, shirtless entrance at the Olympics opening ceremony two weeks ago won him instant Internet fame, and he showed Sunday night looking as oily as ever. (Taufatofua had warned that he had something brief but special planned for the closing ceremony, telling NBC News,"Don't blink or you'll miss it.") We blinked, and we still couldn't miss it.
The Olympic athlete only finally competed this Saturday in taekwondo, and let's just say he will probably be better remembered for his grand oiled entrance two weeks ago. Taufatofua fell behind 3–0 in 21 seconds, and told Sports Illustrated it was “9-nil before I even started throwing kicks. And I thought: ‘What am I doing?’” The final score was 16–1, and even though the match was supposed to go three rounds, his opponent won by a “point gap” rule — aka they ended the game early because he was so far behind. “There is more to sport than just winning,” Taufatofua said. “I say this because I lost.” At least he's honest.
But lest you take this as permission to simply joke about his slip-and-slide of a torso, the athlete would like to remind you: “I was here because it took me 20 years to get here. People thought I walked out with a shiny body and was an overnight success. F--- that. … It was 20 years of work to walk out on that stage and be chosen as the flag bearer.” Indeed, the 32-year old athlete is the first-ever to qualify for the Olympics in taekwondo from Tonga, and had to raise about $6,000 in order to pay his way to Rio. Since his splash at the opening ceremony, however, his Indiegogo crowdfunding total for future training costs is at nearly $10,000. (Tonga is a country of 171 islands, and according to the World Bank, gross income per capita was $4,260 per year in 2014; more than 20 percent of Tongans live in poverty.)
Defeat or not, when he finally showed up at the closing ceremony Sunday night, everyone on Twitter was, needless to say, very aroused.
Not to be a buzzkill, but the fact that his oiled-up chest and traditional Polynesian garb was objectified and made fun of to the extent that it was is some legit double-standard sexism. It was even mostly seen as funny that he had to deal with this grossness from "journalists" after the opening ceremony.
But what if the genders had been reversed? Not so funny.
Still, Taufatofua is making the most of his fame and newfound Instagram following, and hopefully, he will still be a hero in his country, if only for bringing some much-deserved attention to Tonga.