The Tokyo Olympics - like any top-level sport held since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19's spread a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 - will always be branded with an asterisk.
Countless column inches and acres of footage have debated whether the event should proceed, an argument now rendered moot as the Games juggernaut starts winding through the gears.
The International Olympic Committee stands atop the power-wielding dais.
They have flexed enough corporate muscle and exuded sufficient persuasive charm to deliver an event they believe will satisfy their stakeholders – the broadcasters, sponsors, international sporting bodies and athletes – even in what regular local polls insist is a hostile territory.
In the best traditions of second-is-the-first-loser, Japan, and particularly Tokyo, will carry any potential economic, social and health burden for generations to come.
First, they suffered an enforced delay of a year. Now they can't recoup the costs via ticket sales because spectators are banned. In January, the insidethegames.biz website quoted a professor of theoretical economics at Kansai University, who estimated the financial impact of holding the event behind closed doors would be in the vicinity of $33 billion.
That is a champion debt. Hopefully the piles of yen sunk into infrastructure developments eventually yield a return.
How grateful must the shunned Istanbul and Madrid be to an IOC vote which rejected their bids on September 7, 2013 in Buenos Aires? Paris in 2024, Los Angeles in 2028 and now Brisbane in 2032 must now brace themselves.
The IOC is gambling that what shapes as a vacuous, tick-the-box Tokyo event will still draw in adequate viewers to march the movement on. They could be right.
Perhaps shot-putter Dame Valerie Adams' adamant stance should have been taken more seriously in April. When questioned about the prospects of cancellation, she responded: "Covid-pending, my arse. Tokyo's going ahead, people".
What can you prioritise if you are a New Zealand sports fan in the circumstances? This writer tends to default to athletes or teams preparing to cross pioneering frontiers or dismantle popular hoodoos. Such feats offer context and nuances to our Games history.
Let's look at three examples.
1. Adams, Hamish Bond and Lisa Carrington
These three are competing inside and outside their sports, at least in the medal annals. No New Zealander has triumphed at three separate Games or, in the case of rower Bond and kayaker Carrington, consecutive editions.
2. The men's and women's rowing eights
These boats represent the pinnacle of the sport. Watching eight oars dip and catch in sync down a 2000-metre course is among the discipline's most aesthetically pleasing sights. The fact the women are the defending 2019 world champions will imbue them with the confidence to create a precedent in the class. Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast could add to the historical significance by also earning a medal in the pair. The Olympics only welcomed women to the sport in 1976.
In contrast, the men are trying to match their forebears from Munich in 1972. They have a tougher ascent than the women because they failed to qualify in 2019 and had to peak at May's regatta of death in Lucerne to advance. Still, you never write off any crew featuring Bond.
3. Lewis Clareburt
The 22-year-old's targeting a rare swimming lane in the 200 and 400-metre individual medleys. The last of New Zealand's six pool medals came 25 years ago courtesy of Danyon Loader's two freestyle golds at Atlanta. Loader at Barcelona, Paul Kingsman and Anthony Mosse at Seoul and Jean Hurring at Helsinki have also stood on the dais.
Clareburt's aware of the background. He will look to the 400 IM as his main means of supplementing a 2019 world championship bronze.
"It gives me goosebumps when I think about it. We haven't had a medal in so long and we want to stop that dry spell. Moss [Burmester in the 200m butterfly at Beijing] and Lauren [Boyle in the 800m freestyle at London] were so close [in fourth]."
Perhaps that sentiment will apply to the wider Tokyo experience as we prepare for distraction over the coming fortnight. Let the Games begin... and end.