One has to wonder if history will judge the Tokyo Olympic Games by a nation's tally of gold medals or its COVID-19 cases.
For now, an athlete's tireless pursuit of a place on the podium takes precedence inside the Olympic bubble's empty stadiums. But many on the outside will watch with mixed emotions.
Indigenous basketballer Patty Mills and swimmer Cate Campbell were tasked with carrying Australia's flag at Friday night's opening ceremony, one we have waited five years for.
The Tokyo Games open against a backdrop of public resistance. The event has been shrouded in controversy for more than 12 months after being postponed in the midst of a global pandemic.
Yet as a nation wakes on Saturday morning, television screens across Australia will be tuned into Olympic coverage - perhaps providing the thousands in lockdown with some kind of solace.
"I definitely feel like every Olympian who gets to compete is going to be a part of history," gold medal hopeful Campbell said.
"I don't think that we will see an Olympics like it. To have an extra special spot in the history books is just an honour that you can't really fully grapple with."
But as the world grapples with a global pandemic, calls to cancel the 16-day event have grown louder. Those calls are not without reason given 11,000 athletes and staff members are descending on Japan while it remains in a state of emergency.
The total number of coronavirus cases connected to the Games - both inside and outside the village - had soared past 90 on the day of the opening ceremony.
Escaping the athlete's village without COVID-19 may soon be a harder task than winning Olympic gold.
But all the furore about pandemics and the intrigue about supposed anti-sex cardboard beds will be largely forgotten once Australia gets its golden moment.
The controversy was dimmed, if only for an hour or two, when the Olyroos stunned Argentina in a men's soccer game on a day of preliminary action.
So while one eye will be on Japan's worsening COVID-19 crisis, the other will be fixated on Australia's climb up the medal tally.
Campbell is a part of a 4x100m freestyle relay team, the Tokyo iteration of Australia's golden girls, looking to secure a gold medal on Sunday.
Elijah Winnington carries similar expectations into the 400m freestyle that day with Australia looking to a rise up the medal leaderboard after significantly diminishing returns at past Olympic tournaments.
Clouds of concern will hover over Tokyo throughout the Games, but if only for fleeting moments at a time, those watching from afar will be swept up in the Olympic romance.
Mechanic turned Australian sevens rugby captain Sharni Williams chases her second gold medal. Mills and the Boomers have their greatest chance to upset the Team USA juggernaut. Javelin contender Kelsey-Lee Barber is looking to cap off a stirring redemption story.
"The world is ready to see some joy," Australia's chef de mission Ian Chesterman said.
"The Games are always full of great stories of triumph and tragedy, but they are always inspiring. And I think the world is ready for that."
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Follow our live Olympic Games blog from Saturday morning at www.canberratimes.com.au/sport
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