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Former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout Believes Contest Qualification Should Be More Selective


To end the calendar year of 2022, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) revealed the standards for the qualification process of the 2023 Olympia. The next iteration of the competition will take place in November 2023 in Orlando, FL. Before the competition came, a former Mr. Olympia (1983) champion, Samir Bannout, recently discussed what he feels are issues regarding the main event of bodybuilding.

During a Jan. 3, 2023, episode of The Muscle Maturity Podcast, Bannout breaks down his current thoughts on bodybuilding as a sport and where he feels the flagship Mr. Olympia needs to improve. Among the more famous bullet points is the former fitness titan who advocated that the qualification process for the competition should be stricter.

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Perhaps the most significant change to the IFBB’s Olympia qualification system in 2023 is that there would be no more points system. Only the top-five finishers of the 2022 Mr. Olympia, the top three athletes in each other 2022 Olympia division, and the individual contest winners in each IFBB Pro League competition in 2023 will qualify for the November festivities in Florida.

In a spanning discussion, this is a change that Bannout welcomes and says is not enough. The 2022 Mr. Olympia stage held a field of 30 competitors vying for the title, which is a very large field in Bannout’s experienced opinion.

“The Olympia should not have more than 20 contestants. Never. That should be the limit. The cream of the crop should be taken at that stage,” Bannout said. “If you don’t get into the top ten, it’s over. I think the top five should qualify again. “

Regarding prize money, the Men’s Open category, with champion Hadi Choopan, surpassed all other participating Olympia divisions until the 2022 edition of the Olympia. This is a distinction that Bannout does not appreciate. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bannout believes the Classic Physique division deserves more respect.

“A guy like Chris Bumstead, really, he’s the most conditioned and the most professional of the Olympia weekend, and his check is $50,000.” The bannout begins. “And the third place winner (in the Men’s Open) took home $100,000. how [expletive] you mean that?”

Regarding the improvement of the overall presentation of the Olympia, Bannout said that he thinks that the organizers of the competition should make a more diligent effort to promote the previous winners. For this former Olympia champion, his proposed plan is to continue building the mystique of the sport while serving loyal viewers by honoring Olympia winners from previous years.

“This [would be] very cool every decade, at least or every 5-6 years, bring all Mr. Olympias on stage in just two minutes,” Bannout suggested. “And that will bring a more joyful atmosphere and celebration. Just like Arnold did [at the Arnold Classic contest]he brought all the previous champions to the Arnold Classic.

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Whether the IFBB and Olympia organizers will accept Bannout’s suggestions and apply them in the future remains to be seen. For now, he’s just the latest legend in the sport who seems to want better for the athletes who follow him.

Featured image: @officialsamirbannout on Instagram

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