Fans will be missing one very familiar face at the Opening Ceremony for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Tonga’s beloved flag bearer Pita Taufatofua—who has competed in both the summer and winter games for taekwando and cross-country skiing—will not be taking part in this year’s competition. Instead, he will be focusing on relief efforts following the recent tsunami and volcanic eruption in the Pacific nation. 

“Right now my focus is on making sure that we can help with the Tonga rebuild,” he told on Jan. 20, “and then and then my energies will move back to the Olympics.” 

On Jan. 15, an underwater volcano near Tonga erupted. According to CNN, huge plumes of ash, gas and steam entered the air, and the eruption led to a tsunami, with the New Zealand High Commission in Nuku’alofa saying that “significant” damage was caused. 

“Tonga gets hit by a volcanic eruption, covered in ash and then a tsunami comes through and hits Tonga as well. It’s been a devastating last few days,” Taufatofua told from Australia. “Once I started to see the footage of all of the waves coming in, I sat there and I thought, ‘This is going to be catastrophic for our island. We’re going to need help.'”

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