LONDON — As hundreds of Olympics fans milled around them, an Italian dressed in a turkey costume stood debating the rights and wrongs of eating meat with a man wearing a sports-themed T-shirt proclaiming he was a member of "Team Islam."
With tens of thousands of people entering the Olympic Park every day, it was perhaps only natural that various religions, philosophies and causes would jump at the chance to win some of them over.
And so just outside Stratford Bus Station -- which many sports fans must walk past on their way to the park -- there was a collection of Christians, Muslims, vegans and others eager to spread the word.
Team Islam was strongly represented, with perhaps 10 men wearing blue T-shirts with the Team Islam logo or yellow ones that asked "Is life just a game?"
"We're trying to make people realize there are many teams in life -- Team America, Team GB [Great Britain], France, China -- but they are never going to win anything meaningful. If you want something meaningful, you need to be part of Team Islam," one of the group, Muhammad Alamqir, said.
"Nearly every day we've had people … embracing Islam," he added, saying that the T-shirts had gone down well with passersby. "They like the idea of Team Islam, a lot of people have been taking pictures with us."
Alamqir said he and the others were "ordinary Muslims" from the local area.
Asked what relations were like with the other faiths, he said there had been some theological debates, but everything had been "very friendly … very pleasant."
'I don't want you to eat me'
And so it was that Antonino Buonamico, 52, a follower of the teachings of Supreme Master Ching Hai, found himself discussing with another member of Team Islam whether eating meat was a good or bad thing.
"I'm a turkey, I don't want you to eat me," Buonamico, speaking shortly before the exchange, told NBCNews.com.
He said when people saw his turkey costume "sometimes they laugh and want pictures."
"They are curious," he added, "I hope they can begin to think about it [becoming vegan]."
Buonamico, from Bari, Italy, said that he was among a group of about 70 people who subscribe to the teachings of Ching Hai who had come to London for the Games to persuade others to "be vegan" and "make peace."
He said Ching Hai's teachings were "spiritual, but not religious," and involved meditating and living "a vegan lifestyle, so respect the animal, we don't use leather, anything from the animal, we're against animal testing."
The eye-catching approach of Buonamico and Team Islam contrasted sharply with the approach of George Chaplin, 70, who stood quietly, clutching a few leaflets in his hand.
When asked what religion he was with, he said Christian Science and then quickly stressed his church was nothing to do with Scientology.
"The message is really about individual potential," Chaplin said. "You see a lot in the Olympics about people doing outstanding things. Our message is each of us can do outstanding things in our own field -- potential from God, given to each of us."
Chaplin, who lives near Cambridge, about 60 miles north of London, said they were there to give guidance to people who needed it, such as those from other countries who felt lonely or athletes who had failed to win a medal.
"I imagine they have really hard things to meet if something goes wrong with their particular event," he said.
'Ignoring each other'
Michael Virgo, 49, from Sheffield, was holding a sign saying that Jesus was "the way, the truth and the life."
Asked what denomination he was, Virgo said: "I'm not here to advertise a church, I'm here to advertise the Lord Jesus Christ."
"It's a bit windy. I'm having to hold the sign, which is making my arm very tired, but never mind," he admitted.
Virgo was standing close to members of Team Islam and there appeared to be a somewhat frosty atmosphere.
"Earlier in the week, the Muslims were getting very argumentative and trying to convert us," he said. "The security people told them off and basically we're just ignoring each other."
Standing nearby, Jeyamani Rayappan, a preacher at the East Ham Tamil Church in East London, began saying forcefully that Christians were persecuted and killed in Saudi Arabia.
A member of Team Muslim who overheard him intervened politely to say the claim was "lies" and rolled his eyes, then walked away.
Rayappan, wearing a yellow T-shirt saying "Jesus is coming very soon" and handing out Bibles in the Tamil and Hindi languages, told NBCNews.com that, "We're just saying Jesus is the only God."
But not all of those with a message for Olympics fans were offering spiritual solace.
One woman said she had come because she wanted to help people "to be financially free."
"People are suffering, people are under a lot of pressure. They are being worked so much -- like donkeys -- and achieving so little," she said, referring to the current financial downturn.
The woman explained that salvation from this crisis could come in the form of "network marketing."
"I'm offering you the opportunity to fulfil your goals," she told NBCNews.com.
However, after her attempt to sell the supposed money-making scheme failed, she declined to give her name or be photographed. "There's so much negativity when it comes to journalists," she said by way of explanation.
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