Tongan flag bearer and fan favorite Pita Taufatofua helped bring the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to a close Sunday by baring his oiled torso one last time.
At first, Taufatofua ― whose chiseled appearance at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics set pulses racing and made him a viral sensation ― entered the closing festivities at the Winter Games bundled up in a heavy coat. (And who could blame him? Temperatures in Pyeongchang reportedly hovered around 31 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday.)
But rest assured: he soon doffed his seasonally appropriate duds, stripping down to little more than a red-and-black grass skirt, a pair of gloves and a smile.
“I’ve got to stay warm, get the flowers out, let people see the color of Polynesia,” he told USA Today. “What’s different here is that we’re no longer individual countries. We’re coming out together. That’s why I’m dressed the way I am. We’re all together, all the same.”
It’s been an eventful two weeks for Taufatofua, who competed as a cross-country skier. He didn’t exactly wow on the snow, finishing 114th out of 119 competitors in the 15K cross-country event.
The 34-year-old’s only goal, however, was not to finish last. He told NBC, “It’s not about winning medals for me. It’s about inspiring people to push themselves out of their comfort zone, to not fear failure, to fail and then laugh at it and then try again.”
It’s safe to say he succeeded.