Pita Taufatofua, who first went viral for his shirtless, oiled-up look at the 2016 Olympics, has returned for the Tokyo Games

Advertisement
Pita Taufatofua; Riilio Rii
Pita Taufatofua; Riilio Rii
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Shutterstock; Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

When a look works, why change it?

For the third straight Olympics, Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua went for a shirtless, oiled-up look as he carried his country's flag at the Tokyo Games opening ceremony on Friday night.

Taufatofua, who first went viral at the 2016 Rio Olympics for his chest-baring outfit, competes in Taekwondo at the Summer Games and made Tonga's cross-country skiing team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

He wasn't the only athlete to go shirtless this year, though. Soon after Taufatotua walked in the opening ceremony for Tonga, rower RII Riilio from the small archipelago country of Vanuatu carried their flag while baring his oiled-up chest.

Pita Taufatofua and Team Tonga
Pita Taufatofua
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Shutterstock

Taufatofua told PEOPLE in 2018 that the viral attention he got two years earlier was "a complete surprise."

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

Though Taufatofua will compete in Taekwondo for the second time at these Summer Games, he's continued to challenge himself to tackle new events. Along with trying out cross-country skiing in 2018, he tried to make Tonga's sprint kayaking team for the Tokyo Games to complete his goal of competing in three different events at three different games, but fell short.

RELATED VIDEO: Athletes Reveal Their Pre-Competition Rituals Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

Taufatofua explained to PEOPLE in 2018 that he wants to serve as an inspiration.

"I wanna show people who aren't into sport or are having struggles in their life that they can do something completely new, completely out of their comfort zone, and enjoy that journey and get somewhere with it," he said.

"People say, 'Man you're crazy!' It's like yeah, I am, but you can be crazy and you can achieve as well. And that's what I want to show people,' he added. "I want them to come on the journey, and I want them to be a part of this as well."

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.