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Cold opening: The shirtless Tongan is back at the Olympics

Pita Taufatofua appeared at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea on Friday. He shot to international fame in the 2016 Summer Games, and the taekwondo competitor took up cross-country skiing last year, despite representing a tropical south Pacific island nation where it doesn’t snow.
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Pita Taufatofua appeared at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea on Friday. He shot to international fame in the 2016 Summer Games, and the taekwondo competitor took up cross-country skiing last year, despite representing a tropical south Pacific island nation where it doesn’t snow.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Pita Taufatofua has shown once again he’s willing to give the shirt off his back for Tonga in Olympic conditions, whether it be sun, snow, or shine.

Less than two years after shooting to international fame when he walked shirtless and oiled-up into the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Taufatofua was bare-chested again when he carried the Tongan flag into the opener of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang on Friday.

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in Rio, and is back competing in cross-country skiing, despite representing a tropical south Pacific island nation where it doesn’t snow.

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Clearly, he considers himself a well-oiled machine.

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‘‘I won’t freeze. I am from Tonga. We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing,’’ he was quoted as saying by the Olympic news service. ‘‘It’s a little bit warmer being in Rio than in here . . . but anytime you get to represent your country is a good time.’’

Taufatofua only took up cross-country skiing last year, and left his Olympic qualifying late.

‘‘It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,’’ he said. ‘‘Taekwondo is intense, someone’s trying to kick your head in. Skiing, you have pain for an hour. Do you like short pain or long pain? But I love them both.’’

Pita Taufatofua of Tonga arrived during the Opening Ceremony.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Pita Taufatofua of Tonga arrived during the Opening Ceremony.