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The centre of attention was two women standing near the vast portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong over the Gate of Heavenly Peace, China's potent national icon.
Crowds crushed around them and soldiers gawked, warily at first, before relaxing.
This was no security threat.
The cause of the kerfuffle were New Zealand's two Olympic synchronised swimming sisters, Lisa and Nina Daniels, of Dunedin.
Among the throngs of local tourists they stood out with their blonde hair and in their shorts and singlets.
As soon as a photographer started taking pictures of them, the crowd surged forward, snapping pictures and talking excitedly.
The Daniels sisters, in the square to take in the sights before their competition starts on August 18, were unfazed.
When it was pointed out that they were stars, they giggled.
"It's really busy - so many people," Lisa said.
Less than a day before the start of the Games, there was excitement on the streets of Beijing.
A "Beijing 2008" sculpture in the middle of the square was a popular backdrop for the Chinese to have their pictures taken, often waving Olympic flags.