For the first time in Olympic history, Australia has launched a high-level networking program, called Business Club Australia, to leverage trade and investment opportunities during the games.
Announcing the program, Trade minister Mark Vaile said the program has already generated $400 million in new business and investment since the Games began.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) believes this uniquely Australian business innovation will become a blueprint for future Olympic host nations. To capitalise on the program, Austrade is also opening an office in Athens for the 2004 Games and has appointed a Senior Trade Commissioner.
A feature of Business Club Australia is Trade Visitors 2000, which brings together high-level businesspeople to see first-hand Australia's technological and industrial capabilities. The Business Club, located at Darling Harbour, has a total global membership base of 13,639 and is growing at a rate of 100 members daily.
Throughout the Games, 100 business events will be held at the real and virtual global networking club. An estimated 1,000 businesspeople a day from around the world are expected to use the club over the next three weeks.
Vaile said the business community could not become complacent in the face of challenges posed by the information age and Australia had to position itself for the new economy.
He said Australia is the second largest IT&T market in the Asia-Pacific after Japan. "Over the past two years growth in the number of houses with internet access has more than doubled and young people in Australia are major adopters of new technology with 82 per cent accessing the net."