The 'Hot Tongan' returns for third straight Opening Ceremony, but now he has competition

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For the third straight Olympics, the ‘Hot Tongan’ stole the show at the Opening Ceremony.

Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua once again carried the flag for the small island nation in Tokyo on Friday, and — as NBC’s Savannah Guthrie noted on the broadcast — had a bit more baby oil than normal.

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Taufatofua initially broke onto the Olympic scene at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when he qualified for his first Games in taekwondo. His shirtless performance at the Opening Ceremony in Brazil instantly made the Shirtless Tongan Flag Bearer an Olympic sensation.

[How to watch Tokyo Opening Ceremony in prime time]

He then returned two years later for the winter Olympics in PyeongChang, picking up a completely new sport in cross-country skiing, and went shirtless again in South Korea for the ceremony despite the freezing temperatures.

Though he’s far from a medal contender in Tokyo, Taufatofua made it back for a third straight games. So, naturally, he got to carry the flag for a third time.

‘Hot Tongan’ has some serious competition from Vanuatu

Either Taufatofua’s trend is starting to catch on, or his successor has finally made his Olympic debut.

Rower Rio Rii, the flag bearer from Vanuatu, also came out shirtless and oiled up to lead his delegation in Tokyo. Rii will compete later on Friday in the men's single sculls for Vanuatu, a neighboring island nation that sits about 1,200 miles from Tonga.

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Best of Tokyo Opening Ceremony slideshow embed
Best of Tokyo Opening Ceremony slideshow embed

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