Pita Taufatofua, the oiled-up Tongan flag bearer captivated social media when he led his country’s procession at the Rio opening ceremony over the weekend.
Australian-born 32-year-old Pita wore a shark tooth necklace, a traditional Tongan ceremonial tupenu wrap, and also lots and lots of coconut oil.
Oiled-up – really oiled-up Tongan athlete
Although we’re unaccustomed to such glistening skin in Olympics opening ceremonies, Pita told the Chicago Tribune he simply followed Tongan tradition. Indeed, Tongans regularly coat their bodies in the oil for the glisten.
“In Tonga, it’s traditional.
“In any sort of special event we use coconut oil … for the glisten. But also for a fundraising event, people stick money to it.”
He said he didn’t realise how shiny he was until he saw the reaction on social media.
“It was being applied to me while I was holding the flag by a lovely lady behind me,” he said.
“She was just lathering it on and I had to ask her to stop because my shoes were starting to slip off and it was dripping down.”
— Bruna (@brunanessif) August 6, 2016
I am all about culture and martial oils, I mean muscle arts, I mean… This is very undignified behaviour. Buying air ticket ??. #Tonga
— Robyn (@pozitiveplay) August 6, 2016
— Emily O’Mahoney (@oh_ma_honey) August 6, 2016
— efb?? (@efbman) August 6, 2016
Besides being very hot, Pita is also a professional taekwondo martial artist. Indeed, he’s the first to ever represent Tonga in the Olympic sport. Following his appearance in the Rio opening ceremony, we’ll see him compete on August 19.
Although born in Australia, Pita grew up in Tonga. After attending Tongan schools, he later returned to Australia and graduated from St Peter’s Lutheran College in Brisbane.
Earlier, he began learning taekwondo at the age of five. He also works as a model. Despite, or perhaps, because of the response to the opening ceremony. Pita attends oiling up again for the closing ceremony.
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