by Christian Duque
The world of bodybuilding and fitness breathed a sigh of relief as the news went viral, that the Olympia Weekend would, in fact, be taking place in 2020. Nothing less should have been expected from new owner, Jake Wood, along with his team, led by Dan Solomon, now in his second year in the role of Chief Olympia Officer. This has been, without question, one of the toughest years the fitness industry has ever had to endure.
What’s worse is that there’s virtually no end in sight. Despite the fact promoters have looked high and low for creative ways to keep their events moving forward, many times backed unconditionally by their venues, the shows have been stopped dead in their tracks by local and state governments. A great many athletes, both at the amateur and pro levels, are growing increasingly disillusioned. They have no gyms to train in, no contests to prep for, and they’re growing tired of training with water jugs and bands. Social distancing has taken a very real toll, with many either working from home or collecting unemployment. The sport needs something to look forward to, it needs its crown jewel, the Olympia Weekend. This is why when news started to circulate that a major announcement was to be made, so many people crossed all their fingers, hoping that it wasn’t a cancellation. The fact the event will have new dates in 2020, is precisely the kind of news that the athletes and fans needed to hear.
Changing dates is the responsible thing to do. Many contests in June, July, and even August are postponing and cancelling. To have the O on its usual date would have been very risky. Not only could the event have been halted, but it may have had a similar fate as the audience-less Arnold Amateur earlier this year in Columbus, OH. Also looking back to the Arnold, the amateur competitors went to sleep the night before the contest, not knowing with any degree of certainty that they’d have a stage to take the following day. In fact, it was looking more likely than not, so if that nightmare could be avoided for the biggest contest in our sport, then that’s a no-brainer. Furthermore, with a second wave of COVID19 supposed to come in the fall, it would have been very iffy to have kept the event with its usual September date.
The USA’s, for example, postponed to December, which is a great move. A December date buys that world class event a lot of time and also allows its competitors to get ready for the stage, knowing they’ll be able to have access to quality nutrition, gyms, and have plenty of time to work with their coaches. A lot of ground has been lost with gyms closed, in many parts of the country for upwards of six weeks. For as much I’ve tried pushing optimism, top level competitors cannot prep for a national stage by hanging from monkey bars and training with broomsticks, water jugs, and elastic bands. That would make a great movie, but it’d be in the fiction section.
This year’s Olympia will be the first under the ownership of Jake Wood, it’ll be the successful return of the Ms. Olympia, and fans are dying to see what reigning Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry will look like, having had a full year to prep. In fact, now he’ll have more time to bring the best physique of his entire career!! Some athletes have already started their preps, like much-talked-about, 212 Olympia Showdown giant killer, Shaun Clarida. Postponing the event might not be the ideal news for him, but it isn’t bad news, either. More time is always good and having a far better chance of taking the stage in Las Vegas, for the O, makes all the difference in the world. THE OLYMPIA IS IT. That’s what every single IFBB Pro League Pro trains for all year long. Every single amateur competitor in the NPC, eats, trains, and poses, with the hope of one day earning pro status and being able to qualify for the O. The IFBB Pro League is the ONLY road to the most coveted title on Earth. Everyone wants to be there. It’s history, it’s tradition, it’s bodybuilding and fitness!!
In addition to competitors and fans, I can tell you that vendors are going to be very happy with the new date, as well. I hate to keep dwelling on The Arnold Classic, because that event took the most serious blow of any other, but imagine all the vendors there. It’s one thing to get your money back for the booth, but what about shipping costs, what about sending out workers, having them assembling massive booths for days, only to see the entire expo not happen. No one, nothing, can stand in the way of the government. What we’ve seen in 2020 has been totally unprecedented. There was simply no way of ever being prepared enough or warned thoroughly enough, beforehand (not that that happened, anyways). Everyone, and I mean everyone, was sideswiped, knocked out by this. Could the Olympia have run without a hitch in September? Maybe yes, maybe no, but maybe-anything, isn’t the way to go. With a new date, farther out, and with more planning and attention, this will inspire far more confidence from the business sector of our sport.
Here’s the bottomline. The Olympia is the big leagues and if you’re going to run an event of this caliber, you need to have leaders who can make the tough calls. We’re very lucky to have Jake Wood, a real fan and supporter of bodybuilding, as the new owner of the contest. We’re also very fortunate to have such a creative, innovative, and dedicated visionary in Dan Solomon overseeing it all. I’m very, very excited to be at the O, whatever date it may be held on. I’ll be there – and I know – you will be, too!!