Tonga’s famedly polished-up Olympic flagbearer raised more than $500,000 after his country was hit by tsunami and volcanic eruption.

  • Pita Taufatofua served as the Tongan flagbearer in 2016, 2018, and 2021 Olympics. 
  • Taufatofua has raised over $500,000 in fundraising since January 15, when it started.
  • An athlete also posts updates on missing persons and deaths caused by the tsunami

Tongan Olympic gold medalist and flagbearer of his country at the 2016 Olympics was a Tongan-born athlete. He has since raised $500,000 to help the nation recover from the tsunami and volcanic eruptions that rocked the island.

Pita Taufatofua 38, who was a competitor at the Winter Games in Cross-Country Skiing and Taekwondo, in three different events – 2016 (Rio de Janeiro), 2018, (PyeongChang), and last year (Tokyo) – confirmed via his gofundme account that his country has suffered a ‘catastrophic’ loss.

Brisbane-based Tonga’s athlete stated that Tonga lost most of its contact with the rest the world after January 15’s devastating events.  

At least three deaths have been confirmed, and all homes on Mango Island were also destroyed by the tsunami.

Taufatofua stated that the money would be used to help those most in dire need and to repair schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Pita Taufatofua (pictured) became a global star at the 2016 Olympics after he was appointed Tonga's flagbearer

Pita Taufatofua, (pictured), became an international star at the 2016 Olympics when he was named Tonga’s flagbearer

The adored athlete has raised more than $500,000 in disaster relief for the nation after it was battered by a volcanic eruption and tsunami last Saturday (pictured)

The adored athlete has raised more than $500,000 in disaster relief for the nation after it was battered by a volcanic eruption and tsunami last Saturday (pictured)

Unaccounted for, the father of the athlete is Ha’apai governor. This group of islands lies in Tonga.

Taufatofua said that the rest of his loved ones are secure.

He admitted that he didn’t think about the worst possible scenario, but he also said that he wasn’t as afraid as he was at the time the seas began to batter the island.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my whole life,” he said. It’s incredible to imagine that there are so many people living in it.

He said that he had been trying to reach his family but couldn’t until the power lines were restored.

“Communication is dark.” He stated that nobody has any idea.

‘I try to not focus too much on that, it’s the same as many Tongans across the world. We have not heard anything.

Taufatofua rose to fame in 2016 after images of him shirtless and wearing a traditional Tongan ta’ovala around his waist as he lead the Olympic team into the stadium went viral at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted at 3.10pm (AEDT) last Saturday, with chaos ensuing.

On Thursday night, aid planes from Australia, New Zealand, and other countries are due to land. They will be carrying essential supplies such as water and communication equipment.

The thick volcanic ash layer that had been covering Tonga’s runway has since been removed by locals. 

South America was also hit by the tsunami that struck last weekend, with flooding in Peru along the coast. Los Rios on Chile’s Chilean coast, which is almost 10,000 km from Tonga has been also affected. In the US, there was also a tsunami.

Tonga has also lost most of its communication with the rest of the world following the devastating scenes from January 15 (pictured)

Tonga lost almost all communication with the rest, as a result of the terrible scenes that occurred on January 15. (see photo)

The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the volcano erupted at 3.10pm (AEDT) last Saturday, with chaos ensuing across Tonga

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that the volcano erupted last Saturday at 3.10PM (AEDT), with chaotic events sweeping across Tonga