Perhaps the most enthusiastic foreign reaction came from the States, where both the Washington Post and New York Times liveblogged the ceremony, although hard ball negotiating from NBC meant it was only broadcast after the event.
The Washington Post appeared particularly energised by the Queen’s appearance. “So, we’re all watching this movie at Olympic Stadium in which James Bond (Daniel Craig) walks into the Royal Palace,” wrote Mike Wise. “He’s followed by two mutts and suddenly walks in to see, yes, Queen Elizabeth. It’s her first role. Ever!” The Post’s verdict? “It’s corny, cheesy, altogether over the top. And it works! […] This is awesome.”
It fell to the US Slate economics columnist Matt Yglesias to dampen spirits, he tweeted: “Watching these open ceremonies, fairly confident that China will bury the west.”
In China the state TV commentators did an admirable job of galloping through potted explanations of everything from the industrial revolution to Mary Poppins but appeared to be stunned to near-silence by the parachuting Queen.
On Sina’s Weibo microblog, ordinary viewers seemed more enthusiastic, with one voting her an adorable old lady for participating – but concluding that the ceremony did not match the grandeur of Beijing’s. Others seemed to see that as a plus: “Will this be the most rock and roll opening ceremony ever?” asked one arts and entertainment journalist.
Japanese channel NHK showed the ceremony live from the early morning. Two enthusiastic reporters explained cultural and historical references, with nods to Harry Potter, Peter Pan – and Rowan Atkinson’s turn in Chariots of Fire – producing the biggest excitement.
On Copacabana beach, nervous Brazilians watched the show they would have to live up to: laughing at Bond, commenting that the Queen looked grumpy, but generally impressed by the spectacle. “I hope Rio can match this,” said one. “Perhaps we will be embarrassed after this,” added another.
The commentator on Italy’s state-run RAI network pointed out that Boyle was “as unpredictable as the people here”, with Italian correspondent Margherita Ghinassi adding: “Only in London could it be this way.” Spain’s El Mundo correspondent John Muller tweeted: “I think that, despite all their mistakes, it has become clear that without the UK our lives would not be the same.”
At the High Commission in Delhi, the Queen’s appearance brought every guest to their feet, but tweets from across Africa were rather less supportive. Zimbabwean journalist Ranga Mberi tweeted:”#OpeningCeremony segment supposedly showing the people who built modern Britain. But I don’t see many immigrants. OK Britain, we see you flaunting your history. Where’s the bit in which you invade, loot, kill and plunder?”
Zimbabwean “gadget geek” Richard Mberi tweeted: “Worst Olympic opening ceremony ever! Trust the Brits!”
Confused South African political activist Zak Mbhele tweeted that viewers outside the country needed “to have taken a hallucinogen before watching the #OlympicGamesOpeningCeremony to get it.” But Verashni Pillay, deputy editor of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online, tweeted: “Other countries show off their national costume, a few local dances. The English boast by being excessively self-deprecating. Awesome.”
Perhaps the only country not to be caught up in the thrill and fun of the event was, perhaps inevitably, our neighbour across the Channel who merely gave a Gallic shrug. At the display of British technology and invention, French commentator and tennis star Amelie Mauresmo said: ” Decidedly, they [the British] have invented things,” while during the NHS section another commentator said that in the health service the medicines and treatment were free, but added: “Of course you have to wait several weeks to be treated.” The royal scenes, at least, needed no translation, with the commentator noting: “Ah oui. Les corgis.”