David OwenOn March 4, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Evaluation Commission, chaired by Sir Craig Reedie, will convene in Tokyo to start assessing the three candidates still in the running to host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It might have been Rome.

It is just over a year ago – on Valentine's Day 2012, to be exact – that Rome 2020 stunned the Olympic world by pulling out of a contest some had thought it could win.

Consider, though, the background noise that would be accompanying the IOC's inspectors had the Italian capital stayed in the race: jittery markets; an electorate so disillusioned with the establishment that around one in four backed a new movement led by a comedian with great hair; and utter uncertainty over the degree to which the policy of austerity imposed on much of southern Europe in recent times in an effort to resolve the euro crisis is going to be able to continue.

Oh, and a Papal conclave.

Mario Monti scuppered Romes bid to host the 2020 Olympics and ParalympicsMario Monti scuppered Rome's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

I suppose some in and around the Olympic Movement might take a measure of satisfaction from the electoral fate of Mario Monti, the Italian Prime Minister whose Government declined to furnish Rome 2020 with the necessary financial guarantees.

But it is hard not to conclude that Monti was right.

It is also hard not to conclude that the situation in which the election has left Italy is bad news for Madrid 2020.

One feels for those associated with the Spanish bid, now vying with Tokyo and Istanbul for the ultimate prize in world sport.

In logistical terms, their city has the makings of a fine Olympic host; the Spanish capital has been as persistent as Pyeongchang, embarking on three consecutive bids; and they have people who know the Olympic Movement inside out, including a member of the IOC's Executive Board.

Yet – unless stability in Italy is quickly restored and uncertainties reduced – this latest Spanish bid risks being capsized, one feels, by forces beyond its control.

Madrid 2020 is Spains third consecutive Olympic bid attempt after it submitted failed bids for the 2012 and 2016 GamesMadrid 2020 is Spain's third consecutive Olympic bid attempt after it submitted failed bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games

It is not that a less than booming economy is per se a bad thing for an Olympic project.

London would have found it much tougher controlling costs associated with its grandiose 2012 scheme had it been building at a time when demand for goods and services was bounding ahead.

Disciples of Keynes might well argue, indeed, that an Olympic mega-project is just the thing at a time of sluggish growth and 25 per cent unemployment.

But, as London 2012 demonstrated, a top-class 21st century Olympic plan requires unrelenting focus from its host authorities.

And, while it is true that economic circumstances in Western Europe will probably be entirely different in 2020, this focus needs, ideally, to begin almost as soon as IOC members have delivered their verdict – that is to say in September 2013.

In contrast to Italy, Spain does have a strong central Government, with the centre-right Popular Party in power since November 2011.

Yet even in such circumstances, the backlash to austerity seems to be augmenting political tensions, as suggested in recent Catalonian elections when parties seeking Catalan independence came first and second.

eurozoneThe eurozone crisis is a considerable cause of concern for Spain

A more pressing source of concern, of course, is something Spain has in common with Italy: its currency.

If a state's currency, its money, is in crisis, either because it is losing value on international exchanges, or because opposition to tax rises and swingeing spending cuts reaches the point where a country, or countries, are driven seriously to contemplate leaving the eurozone, it is asking an awful lot of that state to stay focused to the necessary degree on preparations for a sports event.

And while we are not there yet, and the interconnectedness of the modern world means that Spain would probably be impacted by turmoil in Greece or Italy even if its unit of exchange was still the peseta, the euro's nature as a supra-national currency, makes such linkages both more direct and more complex for politicians to manage.

Madrid 2020 has many attributes, and it could just be that the accumulated impact of a decade's intensive lobbying helps to produce a better outcome than I currently anticipate.

But, really, Italian voters have done it no favours.

Could it be that the rise of Beppe Grillo's Five-Star Movement has a hand in determining where the Five-Ring Movement chooses to pitch its most spectacular tent seven years from now?

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.