2000 Sydney Summer Olympics
Although most Australians knew hosting the 2000 Summer Olympic Games was an expensive proposition, most thought the benefits -- namely, a long-term boost in tourism -- would outweigh the financial risk. Millions watched the Olympic opening ceremonies, a symbolic fruition of Sydney's $3.8 billion Olympic preparation outlay. A third of that cost was born by taxpayers [source: CNBC].
However, lagging visitor numbers during the Olympics foreshadowed a different fate. While the games were largely considered successful, the 132,000 tourists expected to stay in Sydney during the 17-day event never materialized. Instead, there were a mere 97,000 visitors. Tourists who weren't interested in the Olympic Games canceled or delayed their visits for fear of crowds [source: Saunders].
And what about the 8 to 10 million tourists a year who were forecast to visit Sydney following the Olympics? They didn't show up, either. At least not in the expected droves; instead, a steady 2.5 million visitors have been touring the region, far fewer than the country had once hoped [source: Saunders].