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into the Australian way of life: : DATELINE SYDNEY

Every Dog, Er, Kangaroo Has His Day in This Land

September 25, 2000|RANDY HARVEY

Today is Boxing Kangaroo Day in Australia.

No, we are not making this up.

Australians attending Olympic events on this "holiday" have been asked to wear boxing kangaroo T-shirts, which can be purchased on virtually every street corner. The crowd at the Olympic Stadium will be serenaded by the Boxing Kangaroo choir.

It's about time kangaroos had their day.

Australians like kangaroos, except when they're running into them with their cars. (Some vehicles have "roo bars" to prevent deadly damage to passengers.) The men's soccer team is called the Olyroos; the women's field hockey team is the Hockeyroos; the rugby team is the Wallabies.

But Australians, most of whom live in cities and have as much daily contact with kangaroos as you would in Beverly Hills, don't like being asked about them by foreigners.

They look at you like Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady," when she says, "What, guvnuh, you think we ain't got cultcha?"

Kangaroos here are like your drunk Uncle Charlie who lives upstairs. You love him. But when guests are coming, you ask him to stay in his room.

Many Australians were embarrassed when bicycling kangaroos poured onto the field to represent Sydney during the closing ceremony in Atlanta and relieved to learn there would be no kangaroos in the opening ceremony here.

But now Australians appear to making an accommodation with their national animal by giving him a national day. It's only for this one year, but an official with the Australian Olympic Committee said, "Who knows? It could pick up some momentum and become an annual affair."

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