Pita Taufatofua’s bare, chiseled chest won him admirers who continued to make headlines for the three consecutive Olympic opening ceremonies.
After only 12 weeks of snow training, the Tongan athlete participated in taekwondo competitions in Tokyo and Rio. He also competed in cross-country skiing at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. He is most well-known for his participation in taekwondo in Rio and Tokyo and his participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier. This was after only 12 weeks of training in snow, but it gave Nathan Crumpton, American Samoa, the opportunity to shine in the role of shirtless sensation.
Taufatofua wasn’t just absent from the parade. As he announced via Instagram, he will not be attending the 2022 Olympics.
“But I keep going with joy as I plan to support all the Olympians, who have worked so hard for their countries. He wrote that they are all flag bearers and all represent the voice that calls for us all to be our best. “Right now, I have another task. I must answer. Instead, he will be focusing on Tonga’s relief efforts. There, humanitarian aid (and COVID-19), is already arriving and communications are slowly being restored after last month’s devastating volcano eruption and tsunami.
According to NPR, NASA scientists believe the explosion was 500 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) at the end of World War II. It caused tsunami waves to smash into the West Coast of America, caused oil spillage on Peru’s coast, and was even detected as far as Antarctica.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake was also generated by the volcanic eruption, which caused the rupture of the single undersea fiberoptic cable connecting the archipelago with the rest of the globe.
In the wake of the disaster, many people were without internet access or phone service. Experts said that Tonga could be disconnected from the global communications network for several weeks. Fortunately, some areas have been restored and aid flights started arriving after several days.
Taufatofua, who is currently residing in Australia, said that he received a single message from a cousin confirming the safety of his family, but did not hear from his father for several days.
According to the New York Times, Taufatofua was not yet eligible to compete by January and decided to not try to qualify for the competition after the catastrophe struck.
Taufatofua was shocked by footage from the Pacific island nation and set up a GoFundMe page in order to raise funds for relief efforts. Prioritize funds for schools, hospitals, infrastructure reconstruction, and other areas most in need. Through more than 12,000 donations, the campaign has already raised nearly $800,000. AUD or $572,244 USD.
Taufatofua stated that he is grateful for the opportunity to use his global platform in order to increase awareness and gain support.
He said, “Maybe it’s part of being an Olympian, or maybe just part of living in Tongan.” When times are difficult, you have to keep pushing your limits. It is important to keep going. Interviews are a must. I need to continue reaching out to the outside world and working on a fundraising campaign. We are trying to do our best.
He is encouraging people to support his fundraisers and to spread the word. He’d like people to share the images from Tonga, even if they don’t have the financial means, so governments can see that 170 islands are covered in ash.
The satellite images of Tonga before the eruption and after it are complete amazement. These images are available here.
According to updates to the online fundraiser, Taufatofua has been busy organizing volunteer efforts to deliver food to those in dire need.
He said that while he is currently focusing on relief efforts, he intends to return to competitive athletics in the near future. He suggested that he is aiming for the 2024 Summer Olympics in France.
Taufatofua ended his Instagram post with a thank you to his supporters and a promise that he was only “just getting started.”
He wrote, “Somewhere within each and every one you there is an Olympian.” Paris ‘we’ will be coming!