Exactly a year from today - September 13, 2017 - the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide the host-city of the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With 365 days remaining in the race, what can sensibly be said about the present state of play?
The most striking thing for me is that, for the first time in probably 35 years in a Summer Games contest, the IOC has as much reason to be on tenterhooks at this stage in the competition as the bidders.
A strong if unspectacular five-horse field would have been fine.
But already we have lost Hamburg, and question-marks of various dimensions continue to hover over each of the remaining quartet.
Rome appears the bid most obviously in jeopardy, largely because the city’s recently-elected Mayor, Virginia Raggi, represents a political party, the Five Star Movement, widely believed to be staunchly opposed to staging the Games in the Italian capital, at least in the required time-frame.
The notion that Budapest/Hungary could eventually be obliged to hold a referendum on its bid refuses to die, even if this might be thought less and less likely the deeper we move into the bidding process. It was a referendum that did for Hamburg’s chances.
Los Angeles may have cause to be concerned if Donald Trump, seen by many as reckless and unpredictable, wins the United States Presidency in November.
The West Coast city might try to dissociate itself from events in distant Washington D.C, but it is hard to think this would wash with worldly-wise IOC members.
Paris too might face a political problem, at least for a couple of weeks in April and May, since it seems well within the bounds of possibility that far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen may secure the highest score in the first round of the French Presidential election.
It seems unlikely, though, that Le Pen could also win the decisive second round, involving the two leading candidates.
The French capital’s bigger problem appears to be terrorism, and whether the IOC could conceivably risk basing its flagship event there if attacks on French soil continue.
If one or more of the remaining contestants drops out, the IOC risks enduring a second consecutive low-octane bidding contest, after the Almaty-versus-Beijing showdown for the 2022 Winter Games.
And with the future in mind, I cannot believe that the twin spectres of doping and slapdash/opaque governance rearing over the sports movement at present are doing anything to arouse public or municipal interest in taking an active part in post-2024 Olympic bid competitions.
I’m not sure the travails of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee can be stoking especially ardent desires to follow in their footsteps either.
Indeed, if hosting the Summer Olympics does not start to show signs of becoming, once again, one of the supreme aims of many of the world’s great cities – as it was in the 1990s and 2000s – a priority for the IOC in this 2024 race may have to be endeavouring to ensure that those who lose out are minded to come back and try again in 2028 and beyond.
Apart from anything else, I’d have thought the Lausanne-based body would want a maximum of viable alternatives in case Russia - probably the most assiduous, and successful, bidder to stage big international sports events in recent times – decided to try to rehabilitate itself by throwing its hat into the ring.
The IOC, remember, responded to the McLaren Report by stating in July that it would not "organise or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia".
For all this, I still think we are likely to pitch up in Lima, host-city of the 2017 IOC Session, next September with at least three, and quite conceivably all four, candidates for the 2024 Games still in the running.
And, bearing in mind that the 2020 contest did not turn decisively in Tokyo’s favour until very late in the day, I still think at the moment that any of the four could win.
Bookmakers quoting odds on this rather specialised market have Paris as favourite, at between 10/11 and 11/8, followed by Los Angeles and Rome at around 3/1, and finally Budapest at between 9/2 and 10/1.
If you view Hillary Clinton as favourite to win the White House, then I would say that these odds on the US city look generous.
I have the impression that some in the IOC leadership feel that after a couple of decades of rather difficult relations, post-Atlanta 1996, the time has come for the Movement’s flagship product to return to the home of some of its most valuable commercial partners.
Slowly but surely, meanwhile, the current crop of US Olympic leaders is becoming more attuned to the complex code in which Olympic messages need to be couched for optimal effectiveness.
After three failed bids in a generation, Paris, where the modern Olympic Movement was founded, appears more than ever determined to break its losing streak; it has both the plan and the expertise to do so.
Terrorism remains the imponderable, frustratingly for the bid team, since it is largely outside their sphere of influence.
If it can stay the course - a big "if" - Rome may yet be a highly competitive candidate; but first it has formidable hurdles to clear.
It will not be enough to bring Mayor Raggi grudgingly onside; she would have to be able to explain convincingly to a sceptical audience why she had apparently changed her mind; one might expect financial guarantees to be another area where the IOC would seek particularly strong assurances.
A Rome Games though would be visually as stunning as Rio. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, meanwhile, has proved himself the sort of passionate and clear-thinking advocate of the power of sport in the context of national and international affairs who tends to go down very well in IOC circles.
Budapest may be the outsider, but it too has plenty going for it, from its imaginative bid concept to Hungary’s deep Olympic and other sporting traditions. It is also probably fair to say that Hungary has changed more profoundly in the last generation than the other three countries involved in the race, a factor that won’t necessarily, but certainly could, help to instil momentum in a well-crafted campaign.
So far though, this 2024 contest has been fought out largely under the radar, and under close supervision by IOC technocrats – except when some new difficulty has surfaced.
The problem-plagued world sporting movement could now do with it sparking quickly, spectacularly - and inspirationally - into life.