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Olympia Weekend a Big Win In Las Vegas, But...

Joe Pietaro

Joe Pietaro

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Fans of The Iron Game seemed to welcome the return of Olympia Weekend to Las Vegas after two pandemic-affected years of it being held in Orlando. Planet Hollywood was the new home base as the host hotel and the expo was held down the road on the famous Strip at The Venetian. The promoters had all the bases covered; even a convenient shuttle bus was available to take people to and from the two hotels/casinos. From the press conference, Meet the Olympians, prejudging, and the finals, all of the events went off flawlessly with impressive production and entertainment. Yes, the 'Super Bowl of Bodybuilding' was executed to perfection.

2022 Olympia Expo


But rumors were flying all around the hotels and convention center that the Olympia will return to The Sunshine State in 2023 and reportedly to be held in November. The reason seemed to be financial; Nevada and especially the city of Las Vegas is a very expensive one to hold such a long and large event and although it seemed like a bad break that Orlando was the replacement for Vegas, everything was much more convenient and held in one location.

Even in 2020 when Jake Wood and Dan Solomon had to put it together at the 11th hour due to Covid, the Olympia went off without a hitch, albeit with the expo being a much smaller setting because of capacity issues due to the pandemic restrictions. The following year, Orlando was once again chosen due to Nevada being more strict with their attendance rules and the event was even better. The stage was humongous - akin to three across in size - and the fans were happy but also excited to hear that the show would be back in Vegas in 2023 and that the plans that were laid out for 2020 would finally take place. The dates were announced and the reason that mid-December was chosen was that the promoters wanted the Olympia to be held at the end of the 'season' like every other sport and because it is held year-round, the end of the calendar year would be chosen. It made total sense in many aspects; a bodybuilder winning a competition held after the Olympia would be qualified for the following year's show. This way, it is the last show of the 12 months that contests are held to determine who is eligible to take the world's biggest stage.

The weather in Nevada was fine for December, even though its residents may consider an average of 50 degrees cold. Florida also has a warmer climate and the 2020 Olympia was held in December to give the promoters more time to move all the arrangements across the country. Last year, it was held in October and both years, the weather was fine. So if the Olympia is in November of 2023, there is no mystery as to what to expect when it comes to the conditions on the ground. And as far as the schedule goes, the Olympia can still be the grand finale of the year.

There was one major difference last weekend in Las Vegas and it had nothing to do with the Olympia whatsoever. It was the dearth of 'regular' people in town and that did have some effect on the atmosphere. One may think that less of a crowd would be better in terms of waiting in line for a table or a seat at the bar. But in a place like Vegas where everything is usually going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this worked against those who were there for the Olympia. Many of the locations that would be open were closed or stopped seating walk-ins by the time the evening shows commenced, stand-alone restaurants, and hotels alike. It was certainly different from 2019 and prior when it became an annual pilgrimage for bodybuilding folks. Want a steak at 4 AM? No problem. A glass of champagne at 10 AM? Here you go. But it was not like that this year and it took some of the 'fun' out of being in Vegas.

But that is not why people from all around the globe flocked to the land that Bugsy Siegel launched. They were there to see the best there is up there on stage plying their respective trades and that was done in style and with the type of flair worthy of the bright lights. Both nights at Zappos Theater were packed and the audience was loud and on their feet quite often, especially when Hadi Choopan's name was announced by Bob Cicherillo as the new Mr. Olympia, unseating Big Ramy, who was defending his two consecutive Sandows, but fell to fifth.

2022 Olympia


No matter where the Olympia is held, it is always the type of event that is by far and large the biggest and best that bodybuilding has to offer and that's the way it should be. In addition to the Orlando rumors, there was also some chatter about the Olympia once again traveling around the world the way it used to before being held in Las Vegas every year, beginning in 1998. Before that, New York City, Paris, West Germany, South Africa, Columbus, Sydney, London, Munich, Brussels, Gothenburg, Los Angeles, Rimini, Chicago, Orlando, Helsinki, Atlanta, and Chicago hosted Olympia. We will have to wait and see about that, but for now, the return to Vegas was a grand one, indeed, even if it is for just a single year.

Olympia Expo
 
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