It is mid-August, the height of the European holiday season; work stations at the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s glassy new headquarters building in Lausanne are likely to be more sparsely populated than usual.
But I would think those among the IOC top brass who are not taking a well-earned break with their buckets and spades must be looking at events in Hong Kong with growing nervousness.
This week, anti-Government protestors obliged Hong Kong’s international airport – one of the world’s busiest - to suspend check-in services for two days running amid violent clashes with police.
Such actions, in opposition to now-suspended extradition legislation and in support of democratic reform, are starting to have real economic consequences.
With protests now in their third month, fears are rising that China might intervene directly – a move that would have unpredictable consequences, would doubtless trigger widespread international condemnation and could even spell the demise of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that has applied since 1997.
Why should the IOC, a sports body, be especially concerned about events, however damaging, in this prosperous trading centre on the estuary of the Pearl river?
In two words – Beijing 2022.
This is an extremely important event for the Olympic Movement and the winter sports industry.
The former needs to demonstrate that its second-most important product – the Winter Olympics – is not on the wane, and to reinstill momentum ahead of its return to the Movement’s West European heartland in 2026.
The latter hopes to be able to exploit a vast new market which, so IOC inspectors were told recently, is now worth well over $50 billion (£40 billion/€45 billion) and is growing at 16 per cent a year.
We are less than two and a half years away from what will doubtless be a spectacular and awe-inspiring Opening Ceremony, and the more tense and worrying the situation in Hong Kong becomes, the more the messaging the IOC actually wants – and needs – to get out there will be obscured.
Instead, as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games project, and still more the unsuccessful Beijing 2000 bid, discussion in the media will be focused on China’s human rights record.
I covered both the 2008 bidding race and the eventual Games – in which equestrian events, incidentally, were staged in Hong Kong - and my memory is it was only once it was all over that this human rights focus subsided and acknowledgement spread that the IOC had got the timing of when to extend the hand of partnership to the world’s most populous nation more or less right.
In the run-up to 2008, with free trade in the ascendancy, the IOC could at least count on support from business leaders and business-minded politicians.
But with populism having risen to the fore in several of the wealthiest and most powerful countries, this is no longer clear-cut.
A trade war between China and the United States is in full spate, and may already be having an impact on the Chinese economy, which grew by “only” 6.2 per cent in the second quarter compared with a year ago.
Much may have changed by February 2022; in particular, President Donald Trump may no longer be in the White House, though his opposite number in Beijing, Xi Jinping, arguably the most powerful Chinese President since Deng Xiaoping, will almost certainly remain in situ.
But if it persists for long, this combination of economic and political turbulence with China at its heart may pose the IOC real problems.
To its credit, Thomas Bach’s IOC has taken a more grown-up approach to the interface between international sport and politics than was sometimes the case before the German assumed control in 2013.
As he said himself in his speech entitled “Unity in diversity” at the Olympic Congress in 2009: “Sport organisations have always to realise and consider the political implications of their activities.”
When the IOC plumped for Beijing over the only possible alternative, Almaty, by a narrow margin back in 2015, it must have seemed that the political implications were eminently manageable when set against the economic implications of increased exposure to the giant and largely untapped Chinese market for it and other winter sports interests.
After all, any independent assessment of political risk would have told it that this was far lower than in 2001, when the IOC voted to entrust its flagship property to China - and that decision had worked out on the whole swimmingly.
One doesn’t want to go overboard: the Movement may still emerge from this increasingly uncomfortable geopolitical interlude to all intents and purposes unscathed; and we can all take for granted, come what may, that organisation of the actual Beijing 2022 sports events, and accompanying logistics, will be outstandingly good.
But if Hong Kong does turn significantly uglier, then questioning of the IOC’s judgement regarding China may ratchet back up several notches.
The denizens of those Lausanne work stations might find that they return to bulging in-trays.