The world may be increasingly unstable, riven by economic woes and political upheaval. Yet still they come. Perhaps not in such great numbers as when the global economy was soaring to new heights, but they come all the same: the world's great cities and their leaders, lining up in a beauty pageant to secure the event that has become all things to all people – a panacea that can distract from a country's woes or underline their ambition on a global scale.
At the International Olympic Committee's session in Buenos Aires next weekend, protests and turmoil will seem a world away amid the polite protocol and arcane traditions of the body that will bestow the gift of the 2020 Olympics on Madrid, Istanbul or Tokyo.
The first is still in the grip of economic meltdown, the second made global headlines as the centre of political revolt in Taksim Square and the third has convinced many of the 104 voting IOC members that it can host the Games, but has much work to do persuading them why.
The six candidates to replace Jacques Rogge as the IOC president and arguably the most important person in world sport, in a vote that will also be decided in Buenos Aires, have lined up to argue that the costs of bidding for and staging the Olympic Games must come down. Yet there appears no sign of the bidding circus and the media frenzy that surrounds it being reduced in scale.