Consider this an early warning: Although the 2000 Summer Olympics are still two years away, it's not too soon to start planning for a tidal wave of interest in host country Australia.
What will this interest translate into, exactly? Well, clearly, one can expect the koala bear to re-endear itself to an American audience with a proven soft spot for creatures cute and cuddly. By this same criteria, the ever-recognizable kangaroo should hop back into favor as well. Less likely--but still possible--is an enthusiasm for platypuses (one of the chosen mascots for the 2000 Olympic Games).
Then, too, there is the cuisine of the Aussies. Meat, meat--and, yes, meat--heads the menu in the land Down Under. Not distinct enough? That quintessential Australian favorite, Vegemite, is certainly a strange enough concoction to generate a buzz during Olympic broadcasts.
Will a buzz also surround the rugged apparel associated with life in the Australian interior? Yes, we feel certain an interest in outback chic is bound to be sparked with so much attention being paid to the only country that is its own continent. (Imagine a Banana Republic-meets-L.L. Bean style.)
Finally, since there's no substitute for personal experience, look for adventurous Americans to make their own pilgrimages to Oz. As a matter of fact, one recent nationwide poll conducted by Louis Harris and Associates reveals that Australia is the place Americans would most like to visit--and that's before the Games have even begun. Better throw quite a few more shrimp on the barbie, mate.