A little known secret of the Fire Nation was that the throne of the Fire Lord was not inherited. Whenever the current Fire Lord reached a certain age, or fell ill a race was held to decide the next Fire Lord. Only nobles were allowed to enter, and generally those who lose are killed by the winner whenever he rises to power. There is one very odd rule to the game: Everyone must run naked.
When it came time for Azulon's successor to be picked Ozai and Iroh were among those competing. A surprising number of other nobles were competing. Once the clothes came off the noble contestants the cheap-shot jokes began. The roar of laugher and jokes distracted many of the contestants, only Iroh and a couple of others heard the announcer begin the race with a "GO!"
Ozai was trying to hide in the middle of the crowd. He had only just begun to strip and was doing so as modestly as humanly possible. When the other men began to run, he realized that he was going to be too far behind to have a chance in the race. He decided it was best to escape before too many saw him. Ozai dropped to the ground and crawled into some bushes near the starting line.
Azulon impatiently waited at the finish line for his successor to be named. An unfamiliar crossed the finished line shortly followed by his elder son. He wasn't happy.
A fortnight later, Ozai finally crossed the line. He only ran when no one else was in sight. He was shocked to see that his father had been waiting for him.
"Some 'Piandao' guy won the race," Azulon stated irately. "You could have at least tried."