Winter Olympics: Tongan skier Pita Taufatofua opens up about devastating cyclone Gita which destroyed Tonga

Tonga's lone Winter Olympian Pita Taufatofua has spoken out about the devastating Cyclone Gita, which ripped through the Pacific Island nation earlier this week.

The 34-year-old cross-country was upset when he heard the news about the rampant storm, which destroyed Parliament House as well as churches and homes.

The Australian-born Taufatofua made international headlines nearly two years ago when he walked shirtless and oiled-up into the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, and he also did the same in South Korea.

But speaking to reporters in Pyeongchang, he was struggling to hold back the tears as he sent his thoughts out to the people on Tonga following the couturiers biggest story in 60 years.

"Every time a big cyclone or storm hits, it is devastating for the country," said Taufatofua.

"Forty percent of homes in the capital were destroyed - only the brick homes stood. For a small, economy it is hard to come back from.

"That can take years and sometimes you don't even come back from something like that.

"On a positive note, there weren't so many injuries - it could have been much worse from a death toll perspective.

"From an economic perspective, Tonga has been hit very hard. How will it affect my performance? I don't know because I'm thinking about Tonga right now. Who knows?"

Despite that, Taufatofua was positive the country will recover from the heartbreaking storm.

"The Tongan people and Pacific Islanders have a unique personality. They laugh at everything.

"They joke about everything, they do it in a way that they can make light of anything - it can be the worst possible circumstance, and they'll find some way to turn it into a positive.

"If there is a specific message to them you know we will rebuild.

"We've been rebuilding for a thousand years, we've had cyclones come before.

"What hasn't been affected is the heart of the people. Buildings we can repair but the core values and the core strengths of the Tongan people, no cyclone can come through and affect them. That hasn't been touched.

"And that's what is going to get our people through this."

He is the only Tongan competing at the Games, and is the first to represent the island nation at both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

He admitted the transition from taekwondo to skiing was difficult, but he knows it will all be worth it in the end as he looks to inspire kids from the Pacific.

"The goal was to qualify, but the main goal was to open doors for the people in Tonga, in Polynesia and in the Pacific to show them that there is more opportunities.

"To show them that there is a Winter Olympics, to show them that there are other sports other than rugby - which I love - and open up doors.

"That was my goal. On a personal level, I wanted to qualify from a bigger level - it was, 'What can I do with this? How can I inspire somebody to qualify for the next Olympics?'

"I had a short time on snow and I probably won't medal, but in four years somebody from Tonga might, in eight years somebody from the Pacific might.

"But these kids will now have access to something that they never knew existed before." 

Newshub.