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Step aside Tonga because the world has a new topless Winter Olympics icon and he hails from Pacific Island neighbour, American Samoa.
The tiny nation's only competitor at the Beijing Games, skeleton racer Nathan Crumpton took the world by storm with an iconic entrance in Friday night's opening ceremony.
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Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua may have started the trend when his bare-chested appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympics captured the word's attention.
However, Crumpton has taken the mantle honourably in the absence of Taufatofua, with an equally eye-catching display in Beijing.
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) February 4, 2022
American Samoa's flagbearer braved the freezing cold temperatures inside the 'Bird’s Nest' stadium in Beijing, as officials and fellow athletes surrounded him in thick puffer jackets, beanies and gloves.
Decked out in only his skirt-like traditional lavalava and sandals, Crumpton soaked up the atmosphere inside the stadium as millions watched on TVs around the world.
The incredible scenes lit up social media, as viewers praised their new shirtless Olympics hero, who even got a classy shout-out from his Tongan predecessor.
— Pita Taufatofua (@pitaTofua) February 4, 2022
Omg the American Samoa flag bearer is legit bare-chested in Beijing in February hard respect right there.
— Cheryl Teh (@thecherylt) February 4, 2022
— Mhairi M (@mhairim) February 4, 2022
Nathan Crumpton braved freezing temperatures to wave the flag for American Samoa to kick off the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. https://t.co/YJkrcR5gGl
— HuffPost Women (@HuffPostWomen) February 4, 2022
— Wanderlost747 (@Gamxiated) February 4, 2022
With Tonga out of the Winter Olympics, American Samoa stepped up to keep the tradition of the "shirtless flagbearer" alive for the fourth competition in a row at this year's Games https://t.co/Nmdgq1jh4X #10TV
— 10TV (@10TV) February 4, 2022
American Samoa is filling up for Tonga guy🥰😍 pic.twitter.com/uvH2l4L7HD
— Winnie (@winnie_LaLisa) February 4, 2022
Tongan flag bearer not competing in Beijing
Taufatofua, who qualified for taekwondo in Rio and Tokyo 2021 and also as a cross-country skier for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, was unable to make it a fourth Olympics in a row.
The 38-year-old revealed on Instagram that the recent volcano eruption and tsunami in Tongan had shifted his focus on more important matters.
“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.
— Pita Taufatofua (@pitaTofua) February 2, 2022
“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!”
Taufatofua still hadn’t qualified for the Winter Games when the tsunami hit his homeland but admitted there were “too many people who are hungry for me to not be focused" on Beijing.
”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 Olympics icon has raised more than $800,000 of a $1 million goal via his GoFundMe page for the Tongan appeal.
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