Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies: There’s a new shirtless flagbearer

Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies: There’s a new shirtless flagbearer


The complicated and controversial Beijing Olympics began on Friday with the traditional opening ceremonies (spoilers ahead for those to want to watch in US prime time). These Olympics look different from a non-pandemic event in numerous ways. One tradition from the last three Olympic Games, however, has continued: Viewers will still spot a shirtless, oiled-up flagbearer. But it’s not the same athlete as in past years.

Nathan Crumpton, the only member of American Samoa’s Olympic team, carried on the shirtless-flagbearer tradition created by Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua. And his predecessor applauded him. “American Samoa holding the fort,” tweeted Taufatofua.

Crumpton is competing in skeleton for American Samoa. He has an international background. Born in Kenya and trained in the US, just six months ago, he ran track for American Samoa at the Tokyo Olympics.

His appearance at the 2022 Games delighted social media. Crumpton went shirtless in 21 F (-6 C) weather, but didn’t seem to feel the cold.

“Oh hello. American Samoa taking over from Tonga,” one person tweeted.

“Someone tell American Samoa that it’s winter,” wrote another person.

Taufatofua made headlines for the last three Olympics by marching in as Tonga’s flagbearer and displaying his greased-up bare chest. He started off at the 2016 Rio Games, where he competed in taekwondo. But when he returned in 2018 to cross-country ski at the Pyeongchang Olympics, he went shirtless again — in near-freezing temperatures. He also returned at the pandemic-affected Tokyo Games — wearing a mask this time, but still no shirt.

Taufatofua posted on Instagram that while he won’t be competing this year, he supports all the Olympians, writing, “They are all flagbearers.”

Tiny Tonga was hit by a massive undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami, and Taufatofua has been posting about his work trying to help his nation rebuild.

The Beijing Olympics run through Feb. 20. Here’s how to watch, and details about the seven new sports.





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