Apart from halting most sport, the lockdown so widely applied amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic has also changed it profoundly. Suddenly all sport is nostalgic.
Early October 2019 should not feel like a very long time ago. But when I graze over the "live" watch-party footage of the most recent World Championships in Doha so mercifully put up on the World Athletics YouTube site in these inactive times, it feels like a lost age.
What got me most was a simple shot of the Khalifa Stadium in the faint gold of early evening, the backdrop for the commentator to run through the sumptuous array of athletic events coming up any minute now.
In memory I am back there, approaching the stadium in heat massively diminished from the oven of midday, but still stifling. As I get to within 10 metres of the looming arena the torpid warmth around me is assailed by currents of cool air from the huge air conditioning vents within.
On my phone I have a video clip of my passage into the press area. I watch again as I make my way up the steps of the stand and then turn right, passing along the backs of my colleagues before settling into my place. As the jackets and tracksuit tops attest, it is now chilly. Very strange.
How I wish I could be back at the Khalifa for another evening's entertainment. But patience is a virtue, and virtue is a grace, and Grace is a little girl that lives down our road…
Meanwhile, World Athletics has salved the temporary loss with a competition that, while having to be viewed virtually, was actual – yesterday's self-styled Ultimate Garden Clash, a live link to the world's three preeminent male pole vaulters competing contemporaneously in their own back yards.
For the record, former world record holder and London 2012 gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie, who had the idea for this challenge, managed 36 clearances over 5.00 metres in the space of half-an-hour in the back garden of his home in Clermont-Ferrand, as his daughter played on the swing further down the plot.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the new world record holder, Mondo Duplantis, also managed 36 clearances in the garden where he has been vaulting since he was four in Lafayette, Louisiana, assisted by his dad Greg – a 5.80m vaulter himself.
Double world champion Sam Kendricks had to settle for bronze on this occasion as he made 26 clearances at his family farm in Oxford, Mississippi.
The result was secondary to the event.
Well I say that – but the result did seem to matter quite a lot at the end, as Lavillenie and Duplantis finished not only level on clearances, but with one failure each. As our Gloucestershire-based host and commentator Rob Walker manfully filled the gaps, the suggestion was floated that the 32-year-old Frenchman and the 20-year-old Swedish-American could compete for a further three minutes in a "vault-off".
Lavillenie, wiping sweat from his brow, declared with a smile: "I'm done! I don't want to take any risks! I'll share the gold with Mondo!"
In the meantime, his eager young rival had projected himself over the set bar once again before beetling back up to the camera to display the figure "37" written on a sheet of paper. But then he appeared to get the message clearly relayed and assented to the tie. For now…
"I will give you a revenge match, Mondo!" Lavillenie added with another grin. All the blended camaraderie and competitiveness of this unique pole vault amalgam was open for virtual view.
While the deliberations were going on, Walker had spoken to the ever-approachable Kendricks and asked him what form he would like to see the next virtual pole vault challenge take.
The affable American said that he would like to see the two leading Polish protagonists – 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski and 2019 world bronze medallist Piotr Lisek – taking part in the next version.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who on the eve of competition had thanked all concerned in this enterprise for "bringing a little bit of sport back into our lives", tweeted afterwards: "So proud of these guys…should have been a pole vaulter!"
Among those replying, with just a touch of acid, was Paul The Coach, aka Paul Wilson, coach of British male shot put champion Scott Lincoln. He pointed out that on Saturday (May 2) Vinco Sports had presented a similar enterprise on their runjumpthrow.com platform entitled the Valhalla Virtual Shot Put.
The event was headlined by a competition between Britain's top under-20 athletes Lewis Byng and Serena Vincent and the pairing of the senior British champions, Lincoln and Sophie McKinna, who was 11th in the Doha World Championships.
The younger pairing won this event, featuring the combined best throws but giving them an additional 1.5m for their total, by a single centimetre – 37.69m to 37.68m.
But the event also involved more than 200 mainly young throwers from all around the world, including New Zealand, Namibia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Sweden, the US and Ireland.
"Scott and I were working out how he could train when we went into lockdown," Wilson, a former thrower who now runs the Valhalla Throws Academy, told Athletics Weekly.
"On May 2 he should have been throwing in Poland, so we thought we would do a virtual shot put competition instead. Then I started thinking, what's stopping everyone from being able to do this?
"It's a lot of trust, because what I am saying to athletes is you mark out two lines as if it is a circle and you stay in the circle while someone measures the throws for you. It's that bit of trust and a bit of fun at the same time."
I spoke to someone who was at the heart of both productions over the weekend and asked them about the technical challenges involved.
I have to be frank here. I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But I will attempt to give an idea of some of the intricate detail.
Regarding equipment: "You're relying on consumer equipment on site and the basics of wifi or 3/4G internet. If you're going wireless, usually you have a point-to-point system that combines several internet sources – but that's not as easy to do when you're working with what people have at home and not being networking pros.
"The smartphones, tablets and laptops all have different batteries, cameras, processing power and access to applications to send the signal back to the central point and this can mean you're looking at very different sources…"
Regarding social distancing: "You've got to take into consideration what is possible with the athletes and who they have with them during lockdown – do they have family members that they call upon to hold the camera or a tripod?
"At HQ, in the current environment you'd be looking at what one person can process on their own."
Regarding connectivity: "Usually when broadcasting you'd want a dedicated connection for the stream with a consistent upload speed.
"Whereas the limitations of being at home are that you need to do everything on a single connection – so you need to think about what you can do to limit the strain on the devices to do this."
Well, it all looked pretty damned good in the circumstances from where I was sitting.
So now we await the next virtual feasts. There are plans for a Valhalla repeat on May 25. Meanwhile, some of the ideas swirling in the ether at the Monaco base of World Athletics may include – listen up, Paul the Coach – shot put, standing long jump or triple jump, and, even, a modified form of decathlon.
Whatever. Bring it on.