The Olympic Games Sydney 2000 marked the first time that a host city had tried to use the staging of the Olympic Games to facilitate longer-term business opportunities. This was done through the creation of a government-funded programme, Business Club Australia (BCA), a networking initiative aimed at utilising the power of the Olympic spotlight to strike new trade and investment deals.
Initial progress was sluggish due to the difficulties involved in convincing potential stakeholders to commit resources before the Games. By January 2000, only 1,000 members of the Australian business community had joined, compared with 9,000 internationals. There was also criticism of the rules of the programme, which prevented competitors of Sydney 2000 sponsors from joining BCA.
However, as the Games approached, the programme began to flourish and, one month after Sydney 2000 had ended, it was announced that BCA had generated AUD 260 million in committed investments. By the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, analysis revealed that BCA had generated a total of AUD 1.7 billion in trade and investment deals. It had held 270 events around the world, establishing new business relationships between Australia and foreign countries, and increasing awareness of the diversity and capabilities of Australian industry.
The BCA model was subsequently repeated multiple times over the next decade at major sporting events in Australia, such as the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, as well as overseas for the first time at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, to promote Australian expertise to Chinese companies.