Tonga's famous flagbearer returns to steal the show

Tonga's bare-chested flagbearer for its one-man Winter Olympics team was given a warm reception by the opening ceremony crowd in sub-zero temperatures.

Pita Taufatofua emerged from the tunnel covered in his trademark body oil and wearing a grass skirt, sandals and a huge smile as he led the Tongan delegation around the arena.

"I won't freeze. I am from Tonga. We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing," Taufatofua said.

The Oceania gold medallist in taekwondo made global headlines in 2016 with a shirtless entrance as the country's flagbearer at the Rio Olympics.

The good news for his admirers is that he returned for the Winter Olympics, having switched to cross country ski-ing.

And Taufatofua is again creating headlines, featuring as one of the BBC's eight reasons you'll end up watching the Winter Olympics "This is a man who knows how to make an entrance", it said. "Don't expect big things on the slopes - Taufatofua only saw snow for the first time a couple of years ago."

And the athlete inspired an extended profile on CNN, telling the story of the "sacrifice and determination" behind his Olympic dream.

The 34 year old is the second Tongan athlete ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics

He announced in December 2016 he was taking a break from taekwondo in an attempt to qualify for the Winter Games, despite having no prior ski-ing experience.

Last month, he admitted to a big feeling of relief when he booked his ticket to Pyeongchang in the final race of his cross country skiing qualification campaign in Iceland.

"This was the last day of qualification for me, this is the end of the qualification period. I had seven races and they all failed. I did my best but I fell short each time but I thought there's one race left, it's at the end of the the Arctic Circle in Iceland and I thought I have to give it all."

Qualifying had seemed a distant prospect in February last year, when the Brisbane-based athlete finished 153rd of 156 in the men's sprint race at the World Championships. But he lost 15kg and worked on getting faster.

"This year [we've had] so many challenges - we sacrificed everything to be here. Financially I'm in the worst position ever but I'm the happiest ever," he told the Olympic Channel.

Taufatofua will follow in the footsteps of Bruno Banani, who competed in luge at the 2014 Winter Games.