VisitBritain, the British national tourism agency, has put out a list of tips it hopes will help British citizens give a warm welcome to foreign visitors during the London 2012 Olympics. All of the tips below are from that guide. Really.
REAL TIP: A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy. (They tend to smile when angry, embarrassed, sad, or disappointed.)
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: Baseball star Ichiro Suzuki has been photographed smiling even though he plays for the Mariners.
REAL TIP: Don't be offended by Argentinian humor, which may mildly attack your clothing or weight.
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: Ever heard of Diego Maradona? Yeah, pretty much everything he says is an example of this.
REAL TIP: Never call a Canadian an American. Some Canadians take offense at being mistaken for U.S. citizens.
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: If you need to insult a Canadian, steer clear of nationality. For example, to Canadian Jason Bay you could say: "Ha-ha! You play for the Mets!"
REAL TIP: Avoid saying "thank you" to a Chinese compliment. Instead, politely deny the compliment to show humility.
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: If a Chinese gymnastics official compliments you on having gymnasts that have real birth certificates, politely say that they are fake birth certificates just like the Chinese team has.
REAL TIP: When meeting Mexicans, it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes, or their 1845-46 war with America.
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: Unlike most major leaguers, Yovani Gallardo may not be comfortable discussing economic and cultural issues or military history.
REAL TIP: [Regarding the Japanese] Also avoid talking to them with your hands in your pockets, staring, being late, and blowing your nose in front of someone.
PAGE 2 EXAMPLE: People from other countries think it's awesome when you talk to them with your hands in your pockets, especially if you're late and staring and blowing your nose at them. But not the crazy Japanese!