The time seems appropriate to haul out the time-honored query: What if they held a such-and-such and nobody came?
The object in this case is a potential Olympic Games taking place in Beijing come the year 2000. And if indeed no one did show up, the questions that follow are:
Would it serve as the greatest embarrassment since the proliferation of the nuclear arms race, or wouldn't we all be the better for it?
The city in China and Sydney, Australia, are said to be the leading candidates among the half-dozen cities vying for the "honor" to be bestowed later this year.
That's the scary part, because the decision is in the hands of the International Olympic Committee, a bunch of one-time do-gooders who constantly provide irrefutable proof that they're not only out of touch but probably mad.
Consider just a bit of the IOC's past record for awarding the Summer Games. Berlin got the Games in 1936, just what Adolf Hitler needed to glorify his Aryan supremacy nonsense. The committee was obviously oblivious to what had been going on in Germany since 1933.
Of recent vintage is the Games being awarded to Moscow and the Russkies celebrated their victory by invading Afghanistan.
This caused the United States to scream bloody murder and lead a boycott of the 1980 festival. Predictably, the communists and their boot-licking followers known as the Eastern Bloc were no-shows at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
In 1980 and before that in 1976, the IOC caused the problem either with a ludicrous site selection or, in the case of the Montreal Games, doing nothing as 21 African nations walked out to protest an internationally banished South African sports team being allowed to compete in an Olympic member country.
No sooner did Beijing make the short list a while back when New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, an Olympian himself, sponsored legislation in the U.S. Congress urging rejection of Beijing's bid.
Bradley's objection to the bid lies in the simple fact that the Chinese government denies fundamental human rights to its citizens.
Of that there can be no dispute lest all members of the IOC were taking their afternoon naps both during the Tianamen Square siege and the subsequent slaughter of protesting citizens.
Predictably, the IOC is counter-protesting objections to its decision, citing political interference reminiscent of the U.S. action in 1980.
Imagine, the hallowed Olympic institution being politicized. Shocking! Obviously, the Parade of Nations and constant flag-waving and anthem-playing are classified as something else.
Meanwhile, all the good octogenarians of the IOC congregated in Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday for the opening of the Olympic museum. This nifty little edifice cost a cool $65 million and will house works of art and artifacts related to the Games.
That's just what the Olympic movement needs at that price and that locale for all those countries lacking sufficient funds to assure a reasonable representation.
For several years now, the IOC has given the distinct impression that it feels itself above convention and all law while moving itself toward royalty. This museum and the IOC's constant efforts to enrich its coffers all but prove it.
Quickly, with all its nationalizing and commercializing of the Games over the years and with all the resources it has at hand, name one thing the IOC has done to foster the true Olympic spirit. On second thought, take a week.
After Beijing, where? Beirut, Baghdad or good old Pyongyang?