Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan flag bearer known for his shirtless marches in this year’s Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony and in the 2016 Summer Games, is competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with much more on his mind than sport.
Taufatofua said on Facebook Tuesday that he had yet to hear from family and friends after a tropical cyclone tore through his homeland.
“Things like this really put life and what’s important in life into perspective,” he wrote. “I wish I could be there right now to help.”
Cyclone Gita slammed the South Pacific country on Monday with the force of a category 4 hurricane, damaging “countless homes” and injuring dozens of people, Weather.com reported. The storm also knocked out power and water service.
He earlier sent “prayers” via Facebook as Gita bore down on the island nation.
Taufatofua, who lost in the first round of taekwondo at the 2016 Summer Olympics, is competing as a heavy underdog in cross-country skiing at the Winter Games after qualifying mostly through roller-ski events.