Tongan icon launches fundraising effort

Pita Taufatofua at the Tokyo Olympics
Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua has raised more than $400,000 through a GoFundMe page. -AP

Tonga's 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympic flag-bearer is continuing to lead his country as it begins its recovery from damage caused by a volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Pita Taufatofua, who has represented Tonga in both taekwondo and cross-country skiing, has started a GoFundMe page to raise much-needed funds.

The 38-year-old rose to international prominence when he carried the Tongan flag bare-chested and oiled at Rio de Janeiro's opening ceremony.

He reprised his role at both the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

He has set a target of $1 million, and if early progress is anything to go by, that target should prove more than achievable with more than $420,000 donated in three days.

Taufatofua said Tonga needed the help of the world.

"I am currently in training camp in Australia but am mobilising all the assistance I can to send to our beloved Tonga … in the coming days, weeks we will need your help," he wrote.

"Initial priority for the funds will go towards those most in need, infrastructure and damage to schools, hospitals … your assistance and support in this time of need is greatly appreciated."

He added "every person in Tonga will have so much gratitude for you all".

The GoFundMe can be viewed at