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Day 1 of London Olympics Earns Praise, Criticism

  • Selah Hennessy

Spectators watch a live broadcast of an event at the Olympic Park during the 2012 Olympics in London, July 28, 2012.
LONDON – China won the first gold medal in the London Olympic Games -- with Siling Yi, 23, winning the women's 10-meter air rifle competition.

The Olympic Park was buzzing with activity Saturday on the first first full day of the Summer Games.

VOA headed to Stratford in east London where public transportation was packed and the Olympic Park was swarming with visitors, police, and guards. Many visitors who had come to buy a day pass to the venue were turned away at the door. They were sold out.

But the sun was shining and a happy buzz seemed to be in the air. The people VOA spoke to said they were enjoying themselves.

"It's amazing, it's really cool," one woman said. "It's lovely to have so many people and such a fantastic event. Everyone is just really friendly."

"There are many people here in Stratford. It's somehow too crowded when you come out of the tube," noted a visitor. "But it's okay. It's okay."

"There are a lot of people here today. But everybody looks pretty happy to be here," another woman said. "I'm hearing a lot of languages spoken and that's pretty fun. It's fun to be in such an international, cosmopolitan area."

Competition were held in 19 sports during the first day and medals are to be awarded in a number of them including archery, swimming and weightlifting.

The competition began Friday night after film director Danny Boyle's three-hour opening ceremony kicked off the Games with a quirky start. The show was viewed by tens of millions of people in Britain. A glance at social networking sites and the British press suggested that most viewers received it with pride and enthusiasm.

Thousands of volunteers performed in the show, presenting a motley display of Britain's history and culture, including the Industrial Revolution, the National Health Service, and the widely-read Harry Potter books. Even the queen chipped in, making a cameo appearance in a short video alongside actor Daniel Craig in his role as the famous British spy James Bond.

For some, the cultural and historic references may have been obscure. But people in Stratford told VOA that was okay.

"Well on the TV they say there's commentators from all over the world complaining about it saying it were all Britain," a local man said. "But I guess we're in Britain so that's why it were Britain."

"I was a little confused at some of the parts," another spectator admitted, " but overall it was a great opening ceremony."

Two American swimmers -- Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte -- are set to compete Saturday evening in the men's 400-meter individual medley.

Related video report by Jeff Seldin

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