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Why Tonga's shirtless flag bearer isn't at the Winter Olympics

You won't see Pita Taufatofua and his oiled up abs at the Winter Olympics.

ATLANTA — Pita Taufatofua's abs went viral when he showed up to the 2016 Rio Olympics chest bared, oiled up and glistening to strut alongside fellow Tongan athletes from his country during the Opening ceremony. 

The Tongan competitor kept making headlines over the years, continuing his duties as the flagbearer in the 2018 Olympics and later again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Taufatofua is both a taekwondo and cross-country skiing athlete, so fans were at the edge of their seats awaiting his return at the 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing.  But the beloved sportsman never showed, leaving many wondering: Why isn't Tonga's shirtless flag bearer at the Olympics opening ceremony? According to Taufatofua himself, he's not attending this year's Winter Olympics. He took to Instagram to share the news.

"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. This time I will not be sharing the Beijing Olympic games with you all," Taufatofua wrote on Instagram.

In another Instagram post, Taufatoufa said he's planning on watching, and he's looking forward to supporting other athletes.

"Not in the flesh....but my heart will be there cheering on all the Olympians from around the World! Pumped to the max," he said.

He recently started a fundraiser to raise relief funds after a tsunami devastated his home country. Taufatoufa told Olympics.com relief efforts have become a top priority for him.

"Right now my focus is on making sure that we can help with the Tonga rebuild and then my energies will move back to the Olympics," he said.

There's still good news for fans. Taufatofua teased that people can expect to see him in 2024 at the Paris Olympics. 

"Somewhere inside each and every one of you, there is an Olympian... Paris 'we' are coming," he wrote. 

Hopefully, the Tongan athlete will qualify in his sport and fulfill fans' expectations.

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