No Games Media Contacts

Tom Tresser – 312-804-3230 –


Bob Quellos – 773-592-9657 –


IOC Commissioned Study White-Washes Chicago Bid

I bet you did not know there are positive outcomes of unsuccessful Olympic bids.

Researchers from three countries were paid  byIOC Study the International Olympic Committee to find them. No Games Chicago organizers Bob Quellos and Tom Tresser spent hours with this project going over our experience in Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. None of our information, experience or insights made into the 2017 document. [download the study->Examing positive outcomes of unsuccessul Olympic bids]

Chicago does not want the truth told about this scam. The report states “Many of the key players involved in the Chicago bid are still sensitive about the outcome of the bid

. This fact created an obstacle for interview data collection as some individuals were simply not interested in talking about it, while others were willing to talk but remained upset about the situation. A good case in point was while we were in Chicago completing data collection, it was brought to our attention that the Mayor’s office had caught wind of our project and that we were in town asking questions. As a result, they sent out a department wide memo asking staff not to speak to us about the bid.” No kidding.

You are going to laugh out loud when you read how these researchers contorted themselves to find “positive outcomes” from Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Here’s one of my favorites:

While the city and the bid committee did have both positive and negative experiences when trying to put the bid together, overall there was feeling that there was unification within the city. The city’s culture was described this way by one of the interviewees:
“Chicago is a city of neighbourhoods, you may have heard this expression, you know, we have many political wards, we have many different neighbou

rhoods representing different ethnicities. The city remains, unfortunately, quite segregated on many dimensions, and we found quite quickly that although there was pushback in certain quarters against the bid, from an emotional perspective particularly, the bid was a tremendously unifying experience even as it was divisive. It was extraordinarily unifying.” (Interview #26, 2017- Bid Team Member)

Naturally, there was no mention of No Games Chicago in this report to the IOC.

Here’s what Tom Tresser wrote to the researchers:

I am not sure we are talking about the same Chicago Olympic bid. Your report says current city staff were instructed NOT to talk to your team – that’s amazing – but consistent with the way this corrupt and arrogant city operates.

The Olympic bid process I experienced was nothing like what you present to your IOC masters. You are not doing them any favors by making it appear that there were positives from this public scam.

I could not believe the ludicrous nature of some of the quotes presented and the points your team made – what a stretch and it beggars reality.

I would have to say that virtually none of the claims you report actually hold water. Whatever illusionary or gauze-like benefits you might fabricate for this document are vastly out weighed by the negatives of what we at No Games Chicago call “The Battle for the Bid.”

The 2016 committee raised over $90 million and that included $6 million from local foundations who should’ve been focusing on the housing melt down that has left Chicago in 2018 with the most homes under water in America. The entire bid process suffocated and suborned democracy and public policy discussions here – we’ve had more public debate about where to site a dog beach than there was about the merits of the bid – that is, outside of the 50+ public meetings No Games participated in. The City Council folded and rubber stamped this scam and every public policy shop and so-called watch do agency remained on the sidelines. The local media abrogated their reporting responsibilities and became an echo chamber for the completely fabricated economic impact claims of the organizing committee and their hired flacks. But surely, you know all this. If you don’t then you are not asking the right questions or talking to the people who really understood that the bid for the 2016 games was just another of a long string of top-down concrete-heavy clout-powered projects here that tout neoliberal goals of tourism, downtown focused development and “city beautiful” end games.

Ironically, you left out the greatest plus from the sordid process – and that is the on the ground activism and push-back on bull shit projects that we build and which continues to this day in the form of a cadre of informed and effective organizers who are focused on real community development that fronts social justice, equity and grassroots prosperity over mega-projects that enrich the few over the welfare of the many. I doubt the IOC is interested in learning about that.
So you are just the latest in a long series of academics and journalists who have refused to acknowledge the work of No Games Chicago and what we accomplished with no resources. You can not write out us of history.You conclude with some friendly advice to the IOC on how to make their bidding process better. You throw a bone toward anti-Olympic activists by urging bidders to “Engage local community groups from the outset.” Are you completely delusional? The full force of the mayor’s office and his bid team spent two years seducing, lying to and threatening all sorts of community groups. Our local City Council members surrendered all oversight in the face of the mayor’s power and wrath at opposition. There was no money, support or press to speak of for opponents to the bid. Do you people completely lack an understanding of how big city politics work when developers and monied interests smell fat profit and the public welfare be damned?

I’m really sorry I wasted my time opening up to your team. I did not get paid a dime for opposing the bid here. The local press blacked us out and refuses to acknowledge our work after all these years and even after the major local press here all re-canted their support for the bid in light of the disasters that befell Rio. We were spied on by the Chicago police and we are seeking to learn the full extent of their surveillance operations. You, on the other hand, were paid to produce this whitewash and it really annoys the hell out of me.

It serves me right for hoping naively that you all were interested in telling the truth about Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.



Here’s the REAL Olympic Gold!

Olympic goldYou can’t make this stuff up! Rio 2016 head arrested for corruption. He had 16 gold bars worth almost $2 million!

Can you imagine the corruption, waste and debt that would’ve piled up by a Chicago Olympics??

Stop Erasing Anti-Olympic Activists From History!

Professor Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago, and a frequent contributor to local publications, has become the latest commentator to erase successful anti-Olympic protest efforts from the public record.

Are Olympics reaching the finish line-mash up

In a July 13, 2017op-ed piece for the Chicago Tribune Prof. Sanderson opines that the Olympics may soon go the way of the Dodo. He is ruminating on the results of years of successful anti-Olympic protest but he doesn’t mention the main reason – groups like No Games Chicago fighting the bid with imagination, facts and courage (but no resources or help from scholars like him).

He says:

These quadrennial pageants seem to be attracting fewer suitors. Why? One reason is that the specter of terrorism has made them much more costly. Another is that two non-democratic strongholds, China in 2008 and Russia in 2014, raised the ante significantly — Russia spent more in Sochi in 2014 than had been spent on all previous Winter Games combined. In addition, economists began to put out the word that these three-week parties, with their post-Games white elephants surrounded by chain-linked fences and weeds, constituted very poor public investments.

Whaa? Costs? Corrupt hosting governments? Fearless economists who dare to tell the truth? I saw NONE of those factors during the year-long campaign to derail Chicago’s 2016 bid back in 2008-2009.

Then he says:

For 2024, the USOC chose Boston. I was part of a consulting team for the mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts to evaluate Boston’s proposal and make recommendations. Boston withdrew its bid in August 2015, shortly after receiving our report. The USOC begged L.A. to replace Boston. There were initially five international candidate cities, but Hamburg, Budapest and Rome dropped out, leaving only Paris and Los Angeles.

No mention of No Boston Olympics! Unbelievable.

No Boston OlmypicsNo Boston Olympics was made up of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters, including residents from every neighborhood in Boston and all corners of the Commonwealth. To learn more about who we were, read this piece by Olympic writer Adam Vaccaro about our organization’s formation and ongoing workthis piece by Shirley Leung, or this piece about our post-Boston 2024 activities. No Boston Olympics Volunteer Co-Chairs: Chris Dempsey, Brookline, Kelley Gossett, Boston, Liam Kerr, Boston

By all accounts, this intrepid team of citizen activists got Boston to back out of its bid on July 27, 2015 when one-time bid-booster Mayor Martin Walsh announced that due to lack of public support he would not sign the required host city contract (what we in No Games called “the blank check”).  “I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,” the mayor declared. “If committing to signing a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.” When you say that – you have just killed your city’s bid.

So I checked with one of our Boston allies to get the facts. Did our friend know of Prof. Sanderson and his report? Was it the nail in the coffin as the good professor seems to imply? [You can get the report here]

Here’s what I learned:

  • The report he cites was commissioned by the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker. NOT the Mayor.
  • The bid was pulled by the USOC, NOT the Governor, Senate President, and the Speaker.
  • The bid was pulled in late July. The report didn’t come out until August, AFTER the bid was pulled.

It’s fair to say the impending publication of what was sure to be a negative report helped precipitate the withdrawal, but it was one factor in a sea of many.

I was a co-leader of the No Games Chicago campaign in 2009. We tanked Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. There. I said it. It may be hard to believe that a group of volunteers with no budget, staff or office could out think and win against the 2016 bid which was backed by Mayor Daley, Governor Blagojevich, President Obama, Oprah and Chicago’s entire civic, media and academic eco-system. Who we were, what we did and why remains unreported to this day.

I write now to protest the continued erasure from history of citizen’s protest efforts that oppose these bloated, clout-driven mega-projects. Protest and opposition that is often done with no funds, no help and at great risk to people’s careers.

We at No Games Chicago have long reconciled to no love, no mention and no learning from our work. Even as the 2016 Games approached and receded into history and this newspaper, a s well as the Chicago Sun-Times, turned from Games boosters to officially saying “Whew, sure glad we did NOT get those city-killing Olympics!” with no mention of No Games.

NOlympicsLA screen No Games Chicago, No Boston Olympics and now – Nolympics Los Angeles are people-powered responses to terrible urban planning. We protested, are protesting plans that enrich the few at the expense of the many. We are part of the voice of opposition and we deserve to heard and heeded.

Tom Tresser
Civic educator
Lincoln Park

Read The Article That Started No Games

Bob's 2007 article
In the summer of 2007 Bob Quellos wrote this piece for CounterPunch. This was the first in-depth critique of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. He didn’t know it at the time, but this was the start of what would become No Games Chicago.

“In May 2006, proud leaders of the City of Chicago stood in front of the TV cameras to announce their plans to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Their plan was ambitious. The city would build an immense new stadium in Washington Park on the South Side, and a sports complex at the former Meigs Field Airport, located on the edge of Lake Michigan, just outside Chicago’s downtown Loop district. Plus, there would be an Olympic Village to house 17,000 athletes and officials–built in the developing near South Side, at a cost of $1.1 billion.

But the hype surrounding the Olympics bid couldn’t hide the glaring contractions–at the same time as the city promised to spend tens of billions of dollars, severe budget restraints have been imposed on the day-to-day operations of the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District.

As much as anything, the campaign for the 2016 Games has cast a light on an ongoing housing crisis for the city’s working majority–symbolized by the city’s gutting of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the agency that runs the public housing system, and the stream of residents leaving Chicago as one of the most basic of necessities becomes harder and harder to afford.

But the Olympics bid has also brought to light the brewing anger with the politicians, corporate executives and wealthy investors who are causing the crisis–and it is opening the way for activists to tell the real story of Chicago’s “transformation” and organize for an alternative.”

Download the article->Pushing the Poor Out of House and Home-Quellos-7-18-07.

NOlympicsLA Says “No Thanks!”

The old pros at No Games Chicago have been helping the community
organizers at NOlympicsLA prepare for their launch. They are out of the gate strong and connected to a host of vital community organizations! We wish them good luck in taking on the city killer aka as the modern Olympic Games.

Yahoo Sports Says NO CITY Should Host the Olympics!

Yahoo Sports just came out with an article “Rio’s Example – Why No City Should Bid to Host the Olympics“! Holy crap. Watch this slide show and count your lucky stars that Chicago avoided that city-killer!

Rio’s example: Why no city should bid to host the Olympics

There were 27 world records set at the Rio Olympics last year – from swimming to weightlifting, archery to cycling. These were as thrilling as they were expected. “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” is the Olympic model after all – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”


At Last, Some No Games Love!

Gold medalBen Joravsky, writing in the Chicago Reader on August 3, 2016 said this about opposing the 2016 bid:

Let’s face it, folks: When it came to Daley, everybody in Chicago was a rubber stamp.

Well, not everybody. At this point, I’d like to distribute some symbolic gold medals to the few intrepid souls who had the courage to tell the mayor the Olympics were a terrible idea—to tell the emperor he had no clothes.

Maybe by doing so I can encourage a few other brave dissenters to break from the ranks the next time another mayor proposes a really bad idea.

No Games Chicago: A coalition of activists, led by Tom Tresser and Bob Quellos, that questioned the city’s estimates and showed up at hearings to debate Daley’s boosters. The group even sent a delegation to Europe to petition the IOC to vote against Chicago’s bid.

I’m pretty sure no one in a position of power around here will ever credit the No Games crowd for turning the tide against the games—you wouldn’t want to encourage other citizens to think they could actually beat City Hall from time to time.

Allright now! That’s what we’re talkin’ about – a little love for No Games. Thanks, Ben, you were a lone voice in the media arena speaking out against the bid all those years ago.

More Latecomers to No Games Chicago

Where were these guys in 2009?

Where were these guys in 2009?

Two more latecomers to the ranks of No Games Chicago!

Chicago Tribune sports reporter David Haugh writes “In retrospect…” David – we said ALL those things seven years ago. Where were you? Oh, yeah – you, like the paper you work for and the billionaire who owned it then (Sam Zell) were BIG boosters of the bid.

And Steven Malanga, writing in the City Journal, says “Chicago’s Olympic Escape – The City Should be Glad It Didn’t Get the 2016 Summer Games.” No shit, Sherlock. Where were YOU in in 2009.

Come on, guys, would it kill you to at least ACKNOWLEDGE there WAS a group of people – volunteers with no budget and no office – who DID see all this and more – ACTED on what they knew. Acted effectively and acted without regard to their careers or even personal safety.

You will NOT erase us from the pubic record.

No Games Co-Founder Tells Like It Was (and Is)

From WBEZ-FM Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview program from July 19, 2016 (35 minutes):