Topless Tongan’s call on Winter Games strip show
PITA Taufatofua became a global sensation when he oiled himself up and went topless as Tonga's flag-bearer at the Rio Olympics, but he has no plans to do the same at the frigid Pyeongchang Winter Games.
The 34-year-old is set to pull off a rare feat when he competes in South Korea, becoming a dual Olympian who has swapped taekwondo at Rio 2016 for cross-country skiing.
But with temperatures plunging as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4F) this week in Pyeongchang, Taufatofua said he would be keeping his clothes fully on for Friday's opening ceremony.
"I want to still be alive for my race," the strapping Tongan, a self-proclaimed beach lover, said.
"It's going to be freezing so I will be keeping nice and warm." That means that the Brisbane-born Taufatofua will not be sporting a traditional ta'ovala mat round his waist at the opening ceremony.
When he did so for the opening gala in Rio he instantly became an online hit, racking up 45 million mentions on Twitter and later leading to appearances on US talk shows and other lucrative opportunities.
"There was movie stuff, modelling stuff, different sponsorship contracts," said Taufatofua, reflecting on how his life has turned upside down in less than two years.
"I didn't realise how big a thing it would be for people, but my passion is pushing myself." And no matter what happens in Pyeongchang, he is eyeing more Olympic fame beyond 2018.
"I feel I have got unfinished business with taekwondo," said Taufatofua, who lost in the first round in Brazil.
"The goal at Rio was to win a medal so Tokyo 2020 is on my radar. "But who knows, you might see me in something else. I love all sports, it could be anything. "