One of the world’s favourite Olympians isn’t in Beijing for the Winter Olympics for a reason that will only make the world love him more.
The 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony won’t be a shiny as one of the world’s favourite Olympian will not be heading to Beijing.
Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua revealed that he would be skipping the Beijing Games after wowing the world at the past three Olympics.
The 38-year-old showed off his ripped physique at the 2016 Rio Games, where he was competing in taekwondo, cross country skiing at the 2018 PyeongChang Games and taekwondo in Tokyo last year as well.
Known less for his performances and more for his entrances, Taufatofua carried the flag into the stadium wearing only a ta’ovala, which is a Tongan mat worn around his waist, and a ton of oil.
This includes in PyeongChang, where temperatures were well below freezing.
But Taufatofua revealed on Instagram that he wouldn’t make an appearance at his fourth Games, posting the reason on Instagram.
“Three Olympics in a row I have been blessed with all of your kindness. The last two years, competition and travel has been non-existent. Not everything is in our control. That said I embrace both the good and the bad as part of life, and I do so with a smile,” he wrote.
“This time I will not be sharing the Beijing Olympic Games with you all. But I continue with joy as I prepare to support all the Olympians who have worked so hard to represent their countries. They are all flag-bearers, that all stand for that voice within that calls us all to become our very best.
“Right now I have another task that calls me, I must answer. But make no mistake, my sword is sharp and my mind is ready. I am just getting started. We have something up our sleeve, an idea, a feat, a dream. It lives next to the impossible, a place that excites me.
“Thank you all for continuing to share this quest. Your support means everything. Somewhere inside each and every one of you there is an Olympian … Paris ‘we’ are coming!”
To a headline which said he wouldn’t be there, Taufatofua replied: “Not in the flesh … but my heart will be there cheering on all the Olympians from around the World!”
However, the reason he won’t be at the Games is more important.
Taufatofua is a UNICEF Ambassador and has been raising money for relief efforts after the Hunga Tonga volcano eruption sent a devastating tsunami through the Pacific Rim, including hitting Tonga.
When the tsunami struck, Taufatofua still hadn’t qualified for the Games but said he wouldn’t have gone regardless as there are “too many people who are hungry for me to not be focused there.”
Taufatofua added: ”I’ll certainly miss it (but) what the Olympics stands for is more than just sport, and so I feel there’s some level of Olympic effort that we’re doing now anyway.”
The Olympic star has raised $801,085 of a $1m goal via GoFundMe.