Earlier this week, GamesBids.com reported that website ChicagoansForRio.com is backed by a group of Chicagoans who don’t want to see the Olympic Games come to Chicago. This may be true – but only if those Chicagoans are in Rio de Janeiro.
GamesBids.com has discovered evidence through emails, web forum posts and web server logs that indicate promoters of this site are likely based in a city that’s Chicago’s biggest rival for the 2016 Olympic Games – Rio.
While the true identity of the individuals or group involved remains unknown, and there is no evidence to suggest a connection with the Rio bid committee, the professional and organized effort seems to be a deliberate ploy to sabotage Chicago 2016.
A representative of the Organization wrote in an email that “hundreds have submitted e-mails to the IOC, and one IOC office sent a response that said, ‘We’ve been bombarded. You’ve made your point.’”
IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams denied this was the case.
“As far as I know there is absolutely no truth in this story” Adams told GamesBids.com.
When told the IOC’s position, the representative wrote “we understand the pessimism that comes with anonymity. Emails from the site are being sent to the email addresses we were able to confirm. There are roughly 20. Many are connected to specific countries’ olympics offices.”
A webmaster of the GamesBids.com Forums server examined various posts in a topic about the new site after they failed a routine compliance check. He found that a new member had taken on the persona of a Chicagoan who was against her city’s bid and then continued as a cheerleader for the site in question. Server logs indicated that the member’s computer connecting to the forum website was located in Rio.
But suspicion piqued after discovering another member who appeared somewhat pro-Chicago in his initial post before starting the topic linking to chicagoansforrio.com. That member connected from the same computer address in Rio as the “cheerleader”. That activity violated the terms and conditions of the GamesBids.com Forums because it indicates the likelihood that a single person is using more than one alias to deceive readers.
After examining the server logs, timelines and emails between the group representative and GamesBids.com – it was concluded that the site is a fraud.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the group has remained completely anonymous – even refusing to talk by telephone to reporters; a very odd behaviour for a protest group.
Further research shows the group used bogus information in their web domain registration using the name “anonymous” with the address “111 go away”. However they did disclose, whether falsely or not, that they were based in San Francisco. The domain was registered on March 19 this year.
The professionally developed Website uses facts and figures to try to cast a negative glow on the Games and it incorrectly suggests that “5 years after hosting, 21 of Athens’ 22 Olympic venues are unused”. Today, many of Athens’ venues are fully utilized.
A talented Web designer could probably put this site together quickly and easily – but it would require some marketing skills to create the message it seems to deliver effectively. It features a well-produced video of Chicagoans (we think, but who knows?) throwing their support to Rio – not something an inexperienced or unorganized group can easily create.
But the group’s representative said in an email “we’re a small group of private citizens that wanted to add a different perspective to the conversation”.
Despite all of the effort poured into the website, the representative admitted “…for publicity, it consisted of sending a link to 2 local websites.”
Perhaps that’s true – the story appeared online in Portuguese, on the Brazilian UOL website and complete with quotes from the organization the same day the story broke.
The true identity of the organization may be hidden in their online store that is hosted by popular CafePress.com – a do-it-yourself electronic storefront where you can sell clothing and gifts with your own design printed on it. After all, somebody needs to receive the money – right? But apparently, Chicagoansforrio.com thought of this as well. The shop states “Chicagoans For Rio is a non-profit disorganization. All items are at Cafe Press cost.” It seems no money goes to the organization at all and the shop has likely been set up with false information as well.
After months of campaigning, the competitive four-way race seems to have boiled down to an impassioned battle between supporters of Chicago and Rio; this site being a clear example. It will finally be decided by a vote of International Olympic Committee members in Copenhagen on October 2.