Opening Ceremony

Tonga's Shirtless Flag Bearer Has Some Glistening Competition

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua and Rillio Rii, a rower from Vanuatu, both went shirtless while serving as flag bearers during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

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Pita Taufatofua, known simply as the "Shirtless Tongan," set the internet ablaze in 2016, when he entered Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro proudly carrying his country’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games.

The 37-year-old is back for the Tokyo Olympics and led Tonga during the Parade of Nations on Friday for the opening ceremony.

He soon had some unexpected competition, however, with the flag bearer from Vanuatu, rower Rillio Rii, who walked out sporting a similar shirtless, oiled-up muscle look.

Rii is one of three Olympians from the small South Pacific country. He's competing in the Men’s Single Sculls.

“Tonga goes viral at #Olympics. Vanuatu: 'hold my flag…,'” one person tweeted.

Taufatofua also went shirtless for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. At the time, he said he was taken aback by interest in him appearing shirtless.

"I had no idea how much attention that would get," he told People in 2018. "In Tonga where you have a lot of traditional dances, the oil and the outfit I was wearing was quite normal. But in Rio it turned out to be a pretty big deal."

Hours after the opening ceremony in Tokyo, Taufatofua sent out a tweet of thanks to his supporters.

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