The 2018 Olympic opening ceremony in PyeongChang had so much going on: an abundance of proud athletes, some intense and beautiful virtual reality images, amazing visuals, and lots of interesting dancing. But the one thing everyone couldn't stop talking about was, of course, Pita Taufatofua. Yes, that's right: the Tonga flag bearer is officially back for the 2018 Olympics, and Twitter (and everyone else, honestly) is loving him, inspiring a whole slew of new "Shirtless Tonga Guy" memes and tweets.
You probably remember Taufatofua from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, when he strode into the stadium wearing nothing but a ta'ovala (a traditional Tongan mat worn around one's waist) and basically an entire bottle of body oil. It was hard not to talk about the Tongan man who completely stole the show from the world's best athletes and every other performer there. And this year, Taufatofua, now affectionately known as "the Tonga flag bearer," has made another appearance. (And yes, he was shirtless, despite the freezing temperatures.) Many just feel #blessed that he was willing to make this sacrifice, to be honest.
Taufatofua isn't just there to impress everyone with his extremely shiny torso — he is also the only athlete representing Tonga at the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Vox. Taufatofua will be competing as a cross-country skier, a spot he scored after seven initial failed attempts, according to NBC Sports. During an interview with New Zealand's Stuff, he had originally stated that he would be wearing a shirt during this year's ceremonies to stay warm, but that must have changed at some point. Hopefully, he still managed to keep cozy.
Obviously, Twitter users appreciated the fact that Taufatofua was able to get through the frigid temps without wearing a shirt. Check out these hilarious tweets and memes about the Tonga flag bearer, and keep an eye out for Taufatofua during the games.
1. TFW You Lose All Power Of Speech
2. The Internet's Collective Husband
3. "I'll Handle This One"
5. It Happened So Fast
6. For Real Though, Is He OK?
7. Props On Props
8. Even The Official Olympic Channel Was Shook
9. Big News Outlets Even Had Trouble Staying Chill About It
10. Many Appreciated His Dedication
11. Twitter Was Happy They Could Rely On Pita
12. People Also Pointed Out His Many Other Achievements
13. This Twitter User's Daughter Is All Of Us
14. "Zaddy" Has Never Fit So Well
15. Pita Showed Them ALL
16. This Simple Observation Is All We Need
Taufatofua's qualification for the Winter Olympics isn't just remarkable in that he is the only person representing his country, or that he also qualified for a Summer Olympics; it's especially noteworthy because up until two years ago, he had never seen snow in his life. In an interview with the Olympic Channel, he explained, "After Rio I decided to find the hardest sport possible, because I needed a new challenge, and the hardest sport possible was cross country skiing." Especially hard considering it doesn't snow in the Pacific Island of Tonga, where Taufatofua did the majority of his training. In order to train for the events, Taufatofua trained using rollerblades, before eventually seeking out opportunities to train on actual slopes overseas.
Two weeks ago, when his qualification was official, he posted a celebratory Instagram with the caption, "That moment you realise all the hard work and sacrifice has paid off!"
But Taufatofua is celebrating for more than just his own sake. "This is big for Tonga … it's about all of us," he said in an interview with the Olympic Channel. "This is only special if it inspires somebody else to become something bigger than themselves."
While Taufatofua will certainly leave a noteworthy legacy behind him in the long run, in the short run he has now managed to inspire not one, but two ridiculously viral moments during the Olympic Games. Truly, there are no winners or losers this Winter Olympics — there is only Tonga Guy, and he is enough.