Let's say you're an evil genius, the Felonius Gru of the biological science world, and you wanted to create an event that would propagate a virus you created in a lab on the outskirts of an industrial city in a secretive part of the world.
We'll call this highly infectious agent the budweiservirus.
Here's what you'd probably do. You'd arrange a mass sporting jamboree and invite more than 200 independent countries to compete. You'd invite more than 30 international sporting federations covering about 50 disciplines and upwards of 330 separate competitive events.
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With 11,000 competitors and a similar number of officials and official hangers-on, the results would be devastating enough, but just to make sure conditions were as conducive as possible to go viral, you'd create a series of giant petri dishes – for brevity's sake we'll call them stadia – and invite hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world to participate in this experiment.
You'd want a catchy name for this event, of course, so why not just steal one already in use.
Let's call them the Olympic Games.
As followers of sport around the world this week awoke not to results but to flashing signs that had variants of "postponed" and "cancelled" across them, the organisers and guardians of the biggest sporting event of 2020 – and one of the biggest events of any kind ever staged – were in a state of confusion.
It seemed quite likely that the first big test for event for Tokyo 2020 was the 100m semantics dash, as organisers countered any suggestion that things might not be going to plan with arguments over whether it was an official or unofficial view.
So when the International Olympic Committee's Dick Pound gave an interview to Associated Press and stated authoritatively that the organisation had a three-month window to determine whether the Games would go ahead – seemingly laying the groundwork for a cancellation or postponement – that was an "unofficial" view. When president of the IOC Thomas Bach said they were "full steam ahead" for an opening ceremony on July 24, that was an "official" view. Bach's official view took on a surreal tinge when he took time to mention that the words "postpone" or "cancel" had not even been mentioned at a March 5 meeting of the IOC.
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When Haruyuki Takahashi of the Tokyo organising committee's executive told the Wall Street Journal the Games should be delayed a year or two that was very definitely an "unofficial" view. When the president of the organising committee Yoshiro Mori said there was "no plan now to change our plans", that was very definitely the "official" view.
"I have spoken to Mr Takahashi and he has apologised," Mori told the world. "He certainly said an outlandish thing."
Sticking much closer to party line was the NZ Olympic Committee secretary-general Kereyn Smith: "They're very much full steam ahead planning for an opening in July."
Since Bach and Takahashi went public with their unmentionables and outlandishness, and every one got to full steam, quite a bit has happened.
In a by-no-means exhaustive list, the NBA has been suspended after Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19. The big-money college basketball season has been suspended and the March Madness tournament will only take place in front of empty stadia.
The NHL, which has a season that runs concurrently with the NBA, has pressed "pause" on its season.
Major League Baseball has cancelled the rest of spring training and delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks.
Major League Soccer has suspended its season by 30 days.
The PGA Tour will continue, but without fans. The LPGA Tour has recently cancelled events across Asia.
The ATP and WTA tennis tours have suspended all activity.
UFC Fight Night 170 in Brazil will take place without fans.
The Champions League was this week postponed and Europe's major domestic leagues are expected to continue in front of empty stadia, or be cancelled.
The Australian Grand Prix has been called off after a member of the McLaren staff tested positive to the virus.
Rugby's Pro 14 competition across Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and South Africa has been suspended.
This is just the high-profile events. At lower levels the effects will be felt too, with much less at stake.
And this is where we get to the crux of the Olympic procrastination (prevarication?).
The economic impact of cancelling the Games will be enormous; the logistics and associated costs of postponing them just as severe.
We are talking mind-boggling sums of money.
NBC, the American broadcaster, has sold US$1.25 billion worth of advertisements and 90 per cent of inventory. Japanese domestic sponsorship revenue for the Games has reached US$3 billion, far outstripping any other Olympics.
Tokyo's budget for the Games is US$12.6 billion, although this is believed by some experts to be a conservative estimate of what has actually been spent.
Think then about ticket sales, corporate and luxury hospitality packages and several entities – most notably the city of Tokyo and insurance companies – are going to be in deep brown stuff.
(The IOC, interestingly, should be just fine. They have the right to terminate the host city contract if they believe the safety of participants would be threatened for any reason. The same contract "waive[s] any claim and right to any form of indemnity, damages or other compensation or remedy of any kind" for local organisers. The IOC is also insured against lost income.)
The dollars and cents don't just stop at the Games either. Tourists would be expected to arrive early or stay on after the Games, pumping more money into a moribund economy recovering from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
The thousands of apartments in the athletes' village are also due for private sale later this year. A postponement would be catastrophic for developers.
Notice we've barely even mentioned two traditionally key components of Olympics past – the athletes and fans.
That's because for organisations like the IOC and Fifa, it's never really been about the players and spectators.
It's themselves first, sponsors second, broadcasters third... and as you should know by now, they only give out three medals at the Olympics. Fourth is first nowhere.
Major events are a licence to print money. The show must go on until it absolutely can't.
Welcome to the Olympics in a Time of Virus.