As the 48th World Rowing Championships get underway in Bulgaria today, one might imagine a small wreath bobbing about on the Plovdiv Rowing Venue course in memory of the late and lamented lightweight men's coxless four (LM4-) event that had its last outing at last year's World Championships at Sarasota-Bradenton in Florida.
The gold medal earned by the Italian crew of Federico Duchich, Leone Barbaro, Lorenzo Tedesco and Piero Sfiligoi now has an additionally historic resonance, as the International Rowing Federation (FISA) Congress held immediately after the 2017 Championships confirmed the FISA Council's decision to drop that boat class from the competition.
At the FISA Extraordinary Congress in February 2017, the FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland had helped persuade the membership to reach the gender equality required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under the Agenda 2020 directive.
They dropped the lightweight coxless men's four from the Games programme in favour of a women's coxless four despite its record of spectacularly competitive racing.
The vote was closer than expected at 94 to 67 in Rolland's favour.
But clearly members felt the die was cast by the time they met in Florida as the LM4- was sunk in World Championship terms by 137 votes to six, and replaced by women's lightweight pairs.
This leaves only the men's and women's double sculls as Olympic lightweight events at Tokyo 2020.
Rolland admitted after the last World Championships that lightweight rowing may not have an Olympic future beyond Tokyo at all.
"To be frank and straightforward, there is no guarantee at all at this point in time," the Frenchman told insidethegames.
"With Agenda 2020, the IOC will carefully review the programme event-by-event after each edition.
"We know already that the question will be raised again.
"Even if we stand by our determination that the lightweight doubles are critical for the universality of our sport, we will have to present a strong case."
A year on, and Rolland has concerns and considerations that go well beyond the lightweight question as rowing, in common with every other international sporting federation involved in the Olympic programme, seeks to accommodate what, in sporting terms, are seismic IOC forces. You sense, if not anxiety, then uncertainty.
Over the next seven days, Plovdiv will be hosting a total of 900 athletes from 62 nations.
The event will see titles claimed in 14 Olympic disciplines, along with a further six international and nine Para-rowing competitions.
But it seems clear that the current World Championship programme will be changing still further in the next few years as it reflects further changes and shifts in the sport's Olympic profile.
Asked on the eve of the Plovdiv event what he considered the greatest challenge to his sport, Rolland - a gold medallist for France in the coxless pair at the 2000 Sydney Olympics who became an IOC member himself last September - told insidethegames: "I would say the biggest challenge for World Rowing is correctly reading and adjusting to all the changes in the fast-changing world around us.
"Also the world of sport, media, broadcasting and marketing is evolving so rapidly as well. Inside our sport, it is going very well and growth is excellent and sustainable.
"We are working very hard on reading the changes in the world and the world of sport, and working with our members to adjust and lead the appropriate changes for our sport.
"This means FISA's Strategic Plan including greater involvement in indoor rowing and coastal rowing as well as FISA's Olympic Strategy as the Olympic Movement moves through the constantly changing environment.
"We have some important discussions and key decisions coming up leading to 2020.
"It is of upmost importance that we anticipate these discussions, that we engage our stakeholders and the National Federations to contribute to the exercise all along the journey towards the decisions. This is the gist of our approach: anticipation and contribution are key to be ready when decisions have to be made."
Rolland is here referring to FISA's critical casting of its proposed Olympic programme for Paris 2024, which will be decided upon by the IOC in 2020.
What has energised this analysis, as in every other forward-thinking International Federation, is the news that arrived at the end of July from the IOC.
Not only do the 28 core Olympic sports have to reduce quotas to bring down the number of competitors who will take part in the Tokyo 2020 Games - from 10,616, to 10,500 for Paris 2024.
They also have to accommodate to the "two or three" new sports expected for Paris 2024, without that figure of 10,500 growing.
"The expectation is 200 to 300 quota places, so the 28 sports have to reduce 116 plus up to 300 for reductions of up to 416 quota places," said a FISA insider. "This is massive as the sports have already been decided for 2024.
"We are awaiting the decision of the IOC on the additional two or three sports and how much quota they are allocated."
Asked if the lightweights were still doomed as an Olympic event beyond Tokyo 2020, as he had dolefully suggested last year, Rolland responded: "We are still assessing the situation with the IOC and are currently conducting a two-year project review to analyse in depth the matter.
"This is a very important competition category for a majority of our members and they make sure we know their views clearly. At the same time, we understand the pressure and the quite legitimate challenges we are faced with.
"The - then at the time in the 90s - legitimate and strong arguments, namely universality and profile of the athletes, are indeed no longer valid nowadays.
"We are extremely attentive to the general context of the Olympic Movement, to the challenges the IOC is facing and therefore we are thinking outside of the box for the future of the Olympic Games, watching carefully where the IOC leadership are taking the Games."
By this, Rolland refers to the many ideas being floated around in Lausanne about how the Games have to adapt to the tastes of young people and increase their interest in the Games.
"We are following all these developments closely and seriously," said the FISA insider. "We are following the television statistics carefully and know the trends. These points are regular conversations taking place in the Olympic Movement meetings."
Two of the current favourite ideas of the IOC as they seek to maintain the popularity and relevance of the Olympic programme are mixed events - seen as a desirable route towards the admirable principle of gender equality - and, essentially, brevity. Shorter, snappier, more TV-friendly events.
On the subject of mixed events, and suggestions that have been made both outside and inside the sport for reducing the standard course from 2,000 metres, Rolland told insidethegames last year: "We do not exclude mixed events as an option.
"We have not found any good reason or argument that would prevent us to have mixed crews. We offer mixed gender boats at the Paralympic Games and the athletes have fully accepted this as a pro-active approach to gender equality. We also have mixed gender events at our Masters regattas.
"We believe that this needs to start at the lower end of the pyramid of participation - schools, universities, clubs then junior, under-23 and finally senior. We do not believe it should just be started at the top event of an athlete's career.
"We are strongly opposed to shortening the racing distance because we believe that the aerobic aspect of our sport is fundamental to our culture and core values.
"Sprint rowing is indeed exciting but totally changes the physiological make-up of our athletes to anaerobic as well as losing the beautiful aspect of technique and rhythm. It becomes a one-minute, all-out leg press match which we don't think is appropriate."
So has anything happened in the intervening year of this ambitious IOC member to make him change his mind? Not much, it seems.
"In terms of mixed events, we have not changed our thinking on this dramatically except for the fact that we have introduced a mixed coastal rowing double sculls at the 2018 World Rowing Coastal Championships in Victoria, Canada this October and Para-rowing has mainly mixed events," Rolland said.
"In terms of the racing distance - no change in the position. We consider sprint racing to be an excellent way to promote the sport - in a new setting, in the centre of cities - and the best rowers outside of the usual season. But not as a new high level competition distance, for many obvious reasons."
Asked if IOC membership had altered his perceptions over the last year, and how he got along with President Thomas Bach, Rolland responded: "It was a great honour and certainly an immense privilege to become an IOC member last September in Lima.
"Mainly as it helps me to keep a close eye on where the Olympic Movement is going and to be able to hear the opinions and arguments in person and know the people in the middle of driving the Movement at a quite challenging period of time.
"The IOC is indeed facing some tough issues. The demands were well known having many friends and colleagues as members, so nothing surprising there.
"I hope President Bach will share my view that we have an excellent, respectful relationship and share the goal of strengthening the Olympic Movement for the benefit of the athletes, present and future."
Rowing was one of the seven sports that decided to involve itself in the inaugural multi-sport European Championships co-hosted by Berlin and Glasgow last month.
The decision was even more pro-active, given that only two of the sports were already committed to holding their Continental Championships at those venues, with the athletics being booked for Berlin, and aquatics scheduled for Glasgow.
So what was the Rolland view on the European Championships experience? And will rowing be there in 2022 when this quadrennial event next takes place in a venue to be arranged?
"Our experience at the European Championships in Glasgow was very successful," he said.
"We believed in the television aggregation ideas of Marc Joerg and Paul Bristow [event organisers for European Championships Management] from the beginning and worked very closely with them and our European member federations to understand the concept and seek a change in the international competition calendar which would adapt to fit in to this event.
"All transmission and audience figures are not yet in but preliminary results show that this was a massive success with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) members. We are closely working on the issues around 2022 with the other European sport federations and the EBU."
Rolland is confident of a similarly positive outcome from the World Championships now starting in Bulgaria.
"We are really pleased to bring our big Championships, the most important event of the year in rowing, to this amazing regatta course in the historic city of Plovdiv," he said.
"This course is known for excellent competition due to the very favourable weather and physical conditions. As well, the teams are getting ready for next year's Olympic qualification and new formations are taking shape within them.
"It will be interesting to see the new settings of crews after retirements and a year off for some. So I very much look forward for great and exciting racing."
One other decision made at the Florida FISA Congress last October endorsed the recommendation to award the World Championships to China for the first time, with the 2021 edition now being scheduled to take place in Shanghai.
How significant does Rolland believe this is - and how does it fit in with World Rowing's plans to grow the sport?
"We have close relationships with China and we are working hard to join them in promoting the sport in this great country," Rolland responded. "We are also working hard with Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and all other members that are experiencing good growth.
"We have a very successful discipline that Asia has really adopted and that is coastal rowing and, in particular, beach sprint coastal rowing which was a great success at the Asian Beach Games.
"We are living in the period of the rise of Asia and we are also adjusting and working carefully to respect and take advantage of this great moment."