Doubtless he would have been cheered on by a crowd, but the Olympics, both ancient and modern, is a sporting event that is much more about the athletes than anything else.
Many in football would say fans or teams are at least as important as players. But at the Games, it is the individual performances that we focus on the most. Usain Bolt is a global hero, not just a Jamaican one.
This year’s event will take place without the usual crowds and in difficult circumstances. But, as Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray said, this makes Tokyo 2020 "unique”.
“Overcoming barriers and difficulties is what defines competing at this level,” he said. “In so many ways, right now it’s more important than ever that people around the world get to reconnect to the raw emotion of sport, watch incredible performances and celebrate the achievement of athletes coming from around the world.”
Despite criticism of the event going ahead amid the pandemic, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation's director-general, has backed the Games, saying what the world needed now was “a celebration of hope”. “The Olympics have the power to bring the world together, to inspire, to show what’s possible,” he added.
So while the fans will not be there, the global audience watching from afar can, after a bleak time, still take heart from the extraordinary achievements of the latest athletes to add their names to a list of glory that goes all the way back to Koroibos, nearly three millennia ago.