French press review 28 July 2012
The French newspapers are ecstatic about Friday night’s spectacular opening of the London Olympics.
“Magical show“ screamed Aujourd’hui en France, “Grandiose spectacle, already magical“ comments the sports daily L’Equipe, “Truly royal”, according to the conservative Le Figaro, “Olympic opening”, Le Monde, “Flame declared” Liberation, the while the Catholic daily La Croix is full of admiration for “London’s new clothes”.
These are only a few of the superlatives used by the French papers as they marvelled at the unbelievable recall of British roots, its history and culture enacted through a fantastic display of technological knowhow.
The show was spiced by renowned British celebrities such as Harry Potter author JK Rowling and former Beatle Paul McCartney, not forgetting Queen Elizabeth II, who gamely acted alongside James Bond star Daniel Craig in a segment recorded at Buckingham Palace.
“The spectacle confirmed the greatness and power of sport,” according to L'Alsace, but the regional newspaper stresses that athletes are “compelled to share 'their bed' with powerful economic and political interests”.
In London, according to the paper, “honours are reserved for investors” like Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian proprietor of steel giant ArcelorMittal, and his son who enjoyed the privilege of carrying the Olympic torch through the streets of London.
“That’s their medal,” says L’Alsace.
The paper notes with astonishment that “passion is all the 70,000 volunteers will get for their hard work”, not even transport tickets or a free place to live during their stay in London. That, according to the paper, is the sad reality for these lads who are making “selfless contributions to keeping the Olympic spirit alive in us”.
Another regional paper, Le Courrier de l'Ouest, looks at the bigger picture, the global context under which the Games are being held. The “joints of the sick man of Europe are giving way as his body is being subjected to perilous surgery” with the hope of salvaging the euro.
The regional newspaper is enraged by the stark contrast of the spectacle of proud nations marching side-by-side in London and the selfishness displayed at the United Nations, whose “feeble voice has allowed the Syrian regime to continue its ruthless crackdown” on the democratic uprising underway in the country.
Sud-Ouest welcomes some rare happy news coming out of North Korea: the imminent wedding of the country’s young leader Kim Jung-Un to a pretty pop star. The paper says that, while the date of the wedding is a mystery; it is already a revolution in the most secretive regime on the planet that the local press is speaking about the wife of the country’s leader.
Sud-Ouest recalls that Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, and father, Kim Jong-il, never presented their wives in public. According to the paper, “the smile of a just-wedded couple is worth taking even if it will not put food on the table of North Koreans or reassure neighbours terrified by North Korean megalomania”.