Tonga's Olympics flag-bearer becomes Tonga's own flag-bearer
Tonga is not a well-known country. So when the tiny Pacific paradise was slammed by a monster volcano and tsunami last week and went dark for days, it took a while for the event to make it to the news here.
Yet it almost seems like a gift from heaven that the battered tiny kingdom .. had just the man with the global standing to help his country recover.
Who could forget this guy, the Tongan Olympic standard-bearer, Pita Taufatofua, with his preternaturally good looks, and rather spectacular physique, who turned heads around the world with that shirtless national costume for the last three Olympic games, putting his country on the map. He's the only reason anyone watches the Olympic opening ceremonies.
And now as it turns out, he's looking as good on the inside as he is on the out.
He's taken his fame from the games to lead a global effort to raise funds to help his battered country recover. On Twitter, he's thanking people who help, looking on the bright side where he can, expressing sorrow at Tonga's many tragedies since the volcano. Apparently, he was training for the games in Australia and still hasn't reached his family in Tonga, and some lived on the coast, leaving reason to be worried. He hastens to note that many Tongans are trying to reach their loved ones, there's nothing special about what he's enduring. Yet instead of doing nothing, he's interrupted his Olympics to raise money for his battered nation and, based on the GoFundMe, the public from around the world is responding. No other person in the tiny island states of the Pacific quite has the standing to do that. He's already known. He's trusted. And he will persuade others to help.
How lucky could a nation that has endured Armaggeddon get? They don't have much now, but they have him. He's not just the standard-bearer for Tonga's Olympics now, he's the standard-bearer for Tonga. A look at his Twitter shows that he's obviously a devout Christian, as are many people from Tonga -- note that cross on their red flag. To look at this in a Judeo-Christian context, he's sort of a Daniel or David, as the biblical terms have it, handsome and unblemished, sort of a prince or warrior prince sent to do something to save his country. There's something biblical about this odd little piece of good fortune from all that Tonga has endured.
Let's hope and pray that all goes well for him and the country he is seeking to save.
Image: Facebook screen shot