Can Flex Lewis Qualify for the 2022 Mr. Olympia Contest?

The seven-time 212 Olympia champion could move up to the Open division.

Even though 2022 is still in its first month, bodybuilding fans are looking ahead to the 2022 Olympia weekend, scheduled to take place at the end of the year — Dec. 16-18, 2022 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV. The main event of that weekend is the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia contest, featuring two past champions, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay and Brandon Curry, as well as top contenders Hadi ChoopanHunter Labrada, and Nick Walker.

Another name that could be considered a big X-factor is seven-time Olympia 212 champ James “Flex” Lewis. Lewis retired from his former division in 2018 after winning his seventh title. At the time, his plan was to take 2019 off and return in 2020 to compete in the Men’s Open with the likes of the aforementioned competitors. Lewis received a special invite to compete in the 2020 Mr. Olympia contest.

However, Lewis declined that invite due to an undisclosed injury. He wanted to compete in the 2021 contest but personal reasons prevented him from taking the stage — he was never formally invited to compete in that contest, and he didn’t compete to earn a qualification.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Flex Lewis™ (@flex_lewis)

[Related: Bodybuilder Breon Ansley Intends to Bring Thicker Lats to the 2022 Arnold Classic]

Will Lewis Compete in 2022? 

Lewis previously stated that he isn’t retired and wants to step on stage at the Olympia to compete for the sport’s top title. The question is: how will he do it? This has led to speculation that was addressed by Olympia President Dan Solomon on Jan. 24, 2022.

In an Instagram story that he shared that morning, Solomon posted a question box for fans to ask Olympia-related questions. He also posted answers to what he called “frequently asked questions.”

Is Flex Lewis qualified for the 2022 Olympia?

The answer is yes, but as a 212 competitor, which he retains for life as a former Olympia 212 champion.

The second question was about special invites. Solomon confirmed that no invites have been issued, but he reminded those wondering that “it’s only January.” That means that Solomon left the door open for special invites and that Lewis may receive one should he commit to competing in the contest.

That isn’t the only option Lewis has. He can enter any Men’s Open contest, except for the 2022 Arnold Classic — as it’s an invite-only competition — and attempt to earn qualification by winning a show. The 38-year-old is certainly a worthy competitor for any other contest should he choose that option.

Finally, should he compete and not win his first show, he can enter other contests with hopes of either winning or finishing ranking high enough to earn points in the 2022 Olympia Qualification System. Lewis would have to finish in the top three in order to be offered an opportunity to compete in Las Vegas.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by B&T, Est. 2014 (@bisandtris)

[Related: Arnold Sports Festival Releases Athlete Rosters for 2022 Arnold Classic]

Should Lewis opt to compete in the Olympia and earn his qualification in one of the previously mentioned methods, the five-foot, five-inch tall superstar poses a substantial challenge to every man in the lineup. If he were to compete and win, he would be the first athlete to win the Olympia in two different divisions.

There are actually two other men that will compete in Las Vegas that want to do the same — 2020 Olympia 212 Champion and 2021 Legion Sports Fest winner Shaun Clarida and 2021 Big Man Pro winner Angel Calderon. All factors considered, Lewis’s potential impact on the 2022 bodybuilding season makes it all the more exciting.

Featured Image: @flex_lewis on Instagram.