Category Archives: Reasons to say “NO!”

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.”


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):

Chicago Sun-Times Sees No Games Light

Telander columnNow famed Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander joined the ranks of No Games Chicago with this January 1, 2016 column. Six years later. Oh well, better late than never. Just like his colleagues at the Chicago Tribune who also wrote about their relief at not getting the 2016 Olympics, Rick failed to mention the work of No Games Chicago.

What’s up with that?

Here’s what Tom Tresser wrote on his Facebook page:

Rick –

I read with great interest your column “Thank goodness Chicago won’t host the 2016 Olympics.” You write “these days one can only recoil at the thought of the Olympics actually having been awarded to our troubled city.” Well, there was a small group of people who not only recoiled from the thought but worked night and day with no budget, office or support to make SURE that the Olympics did not come to Chicago.

The tireless volunteers of No Games Chicago surely deserve a passing mention in your piece. We did all the due diligence, made all the observations, drew all the same conclusions and that you now make and we did so in 2008 and 2009 – the same research that the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago-Tribune (also recently converted to the “Whew, we dodged a cannonball” school of Olympic thought) and Crain’s Chicago Business failed to do when it mattered.

I need to point out that the organizers of No Boston Olympics were coached by us and they used our graphics and strategy. The media picked up on their work and the citizens of Boston wisely turned away from their bid for the 2024 Olympics. And – even more amazingly – the people of Hamburg, influenced by that turn of events, also rejected the 2024 games. Both cities were spared MILLIONS of dollars in costs related to pursuing a bid – let alone the ruinous outcomes of actually delivering a summer Olympics.

So the small but smart No Games Chicago crew can justly take some credit for THREE cities turning away from the Olympic boondoggle.

What do you say? Can you correct the record in your next column? Our web site remains up and stands as a testimony to the work we did: You can also comment on his Facebook page.

I speak out now not just to get a well-deserved tip of the hat to a great group of citizen-activists but also to make this New Year’s Wish – that when the next BS clout-heavy tax-dollar funded scam gets pushed down Chicago’s throat I hope you all will do your jobs and call it for what it is.

Failing that – my hope is that when another group of friendless “No-sayers” show up to tell that truth – that your paper and the other parts of Chicago’s sorry civic eco-system will LISTEN to them.

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Boston’s Olympic Bid Is Dead!

After terrific organizing by No Boston Olympics the pro-bid mayor of Boston announced today that he would NOT sign the Host City Contract required of all candidate cities by the IOC. We called it “The Blank Check” because that’s what it is. No sign. No bid. Way to go, NBO!