The courtyard of the International Convention Center has been crowded with supporters of Japan and Spain's bids for the 1998 Winter Games over the past two days.
So crowded, in fact, that the 15 young violinists from the Japanese city could barely be heard Thursday afternoon over the exuberant cheers of sweatshirt-clad boosters of Jaca, Spain, jumping about nearby.Supporters of Nagano, Japan, were doing their best to distract passing motorists from the rag-tag band of protesters across the street - and just outside the hotel where members of the International Olympic Committee were staying.
Besides the violinists, dozens of Nagano bid backers performed a precision dance routine that involved twirling clear blue plastic umbrellas. Yet another group of Japanese supporters wearing kimonos waved frantically to everyone while holding a sign proclaiming Nagano really does want the Games.
The seven Japanese protesters, meanwhile, struggled to keep their hand-lettered cloth banners from blowing away in the stiff, bone-chilling wind whipping through the city.
"Because of the Japanese collective mentality, it's difficult to make our point," said Atsuko Takayama, the interpreter for the non-English speaking protesters.
Among the concerns of the various interests the "No Olympics in Nagano" movement represents: Saving the habitat of the Swallowtail butterfly.