Duncan Mackay
David Owen ©ITG"We have seen the notice of CONADE, which surprised us, as the benefit of organising the FINA World Championships is much higher than the cost of running the event." Cornel Marculescu, executive director, International Swimming Federation (FINA).

The Mexican city of Guadalajara this week withdrew as host of the 2017 World Aquatics Championships, making them the second big sporting event in as many weeks - the first being the 2022 Commonwealth Games - to feel a backlash from the collapsed oil price.

For all that, the state of the oil market is something of a red herring in attempts to explain the difficulties which event owners are experiencing in igniting and retaining the interest of cities in staging their competitions.

Like any commodity, after all, oil is a zero-sum game: there are as many winners from $60-a-barrel oil as losers.

It is just that some of those who felt they had spare cash to lavish on international sport in the days of $110-a-barrel oil, unsurprisingly, are having second thoughts.

It is the dislocation as cities and Governments attune to a new set of economic circumstances that is making life uncomfortable for some event owners.

FINA will soon enough find another 2017 host from the ranks either of oil producers who can live with today's prices, or countries for which the market's collapse has brought an unexpected windfall.

Who knows, perhaps they will end up in London with its shiny new Olympic Aquatics Centre - although they would presumably need to resurrect the water polo hall.

Could the Aquatics Centre built for London 2012 step in a replacement for Guadalajara to host the 2017 World Aquatics Championships ©Getty ImagesCould the Aquatics Centre built for London 2012 step in a replacement for Guadalajara to host the 2017 World Aquatics Championships ©Getty Images

The broader - and much more serious - point for event owners is that the general economic and geopolitical backdrop against which we are all living our day-to-day lives is going through a particularly turbulent and unpredictable phase.

What is more, growth in many of the countries with the most experience in the ticklish business of event hosting remains sluggish.

It is vital, while this climate persists, that sport is able to articulate as clearly and convincingly as possible that event staging can and does pay handsome dividends.

This is my reason for highlighting Marculescu's reaction to Wednesday's announcement on Guadalajara by the Mexican National Physical Culture and Sport Commission (CONADE) at the top of this piece.

If you don't accept this, consider the position that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) now finds itself in.

Yes, the oil price did for Edmonton, but, I would argue that it was the broader economic malaise that produced a situation in which the Canadian city was one of only two bidders.

Now Durban is left as the only game in town - a situation that can hardly fail to dilute the CGF's bargaining power in negotiations with its prospective partner.

It is perhaps worth emphasising that Asia, one region of the world where growth has remained comparatively buoyant and appetite for events strong, is only partly in bounds as far as the CGF is concerned: you can't stage a Commonwealth Games in China or Qatar.

Everyone enjoyed Glasgow 2014 but there is still only one bidder for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Durban in South Africa ©Getty ImagesEveryone enjoyed Glasgow 2014 but there is still only one bidder for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Durban in South Africa ©Getty Images

One way in which sport can adjust the cost:benefit equation confronting cities when they assess their hosting options is, of course, to cut costs - which, in large measure, is what Agenda 2020 is all about.

Multi-sports events can also enhance their appeal by ensuring that the events on their programmes are those that most people want to watch.

But sport also needs to be able to measure and articulate the benefits of what it can bring to the table for prospective host-cities.

This is all the more important as costs are a) for the most part, all too tangible and b) incurred up-front before most potential benefits accrue.

The new feasibility study with which French sports leaders are trying to sell politicians on the idea of a Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid is quite an interesting document in this regard.

In the storied annals of Anglo-French relations, it must be doubtful if either one of these old foes has ever publicly heaped so much praise on the other.

Britain demonstrated, the study states, that organising the Games could be a "formidable tool for urban planning, for national pride and cohesion, for cultural influence, for promoting and enhancing the attractiveness of Great Britain and its know-how on the international stage, and, more globally, for the dynamism of a nation".

The London Games were a "sporting, media, popular and economic success".

Wow - and what makes this all the more remarkable is that Paris was one of the defeated candidates.

The study also cites a joint UK Government/Mayor of London report maintaining that a four-year target of £11 billion of economic gains from the 2012 Games had been surpassed within 14 months and that, after two years, benefits had reached £14.2 billion "and rising".

London 2012 has been held up as an example of how to stage a successful Olympic Games - even by the French in their feasibility study for a possible bid from Paris for 2024 ©CNOSFLondon 2012 has been held up as an example of how to stage a successful Olympic Games - even by the French in their feasibility study for a possible bid from Paris for 2024 ©CNOSF

I can be a contrary so-and-so for my sins, and I must admit that I tend to take such exercises with a pinch of salt.

Having watched over the Olympic/Paralympic Movement for some 15 years, my conclusion is that, on balance, the world is a better place with it than without it, but this is not penicillin or ice-cream we are talking about, and there are times when it seems a mighty close-run thing.

On the other hand, if those London 2012 economic benefit figures play a part in persuading Paris to bid for the Games, then it pretty much makes the case that sport would be well-advised to make sure that such tallies are kept whenever possible.

I would argue that sport also needs, as a matter of priority, to devise ways of measuring and highlighting benefits for host-cities and nations that I suspect economists and accountants have a tendency to undervalue, or even overlook altogether.

What I mean is this: the tipping-point, looking back, that prompted me to form the opinion that, yes, London 2012 had been worth all the fuss was not some moment of transcendent sporting genius, or an onrush of nationalistic fervour; it was the realisation, between South Ken and King's Cross/St Pancras, that the usual glum, numb and humdrum atmosphere on the Tube had been transformed.

The writer A.L.Kennedy, not someone I would consider a sports evangelist by nature, appears to have noticed something similar.

"Even stiff old London during the 2012 Olympics was an opened city with increased disabled access, happy visitors, happy locals, happy Brits who were in a new context and liking it," she said, in what I think was a contribution to A Point of View on BBC Radio 4.

"I recall riding the Tube one Olympic day and assisting a stranger with her coat.

"The man beside me softly offered, 'We don't usually help each other, do we? Or talk to each other.'

"We smiled."

Now, it may only have lasted for a month, but this transformation has a value.

London 2012 helped put a smile on the face of the city ©Getty ImagesLondon 2012 helped put a smile on the face of the city ©Getty Images

In its crudest terms - perhaps two Tube passengers who at any other time would not have spoken did a deal; or became friends; or set up a business together; or fell in love and produced an infant who will be the next Einstein.

You can't say London 2012 was 100 per cent responsible for such things; and it would be a pig to put a realistic value on them.

But sure as eggs are eggs, London 2012 should get some of the credit; and such scenes would have been replicated enough times for the value to be substantial.

It is no bad thing as we struggle to cope with modern life that we seem increasingly to clutch at ways of comparing and ranking things through league tables, benchmarking, price comparison websites.

But one negative side-effect of this is that we perhaps show an increased tendency to assume that if something falls outside the accepted parameters, or worse is hard to measure, it doesn't exist, or has no value.

News like this month's stories from Guadalajara and Edmonton makes it all the more vital for sport to find ways of ensuring that it can quantify and articulate all the good it does.

Its case for receiving scarce public resources when times are unpredictable or hard is not so overwhelming that it can afford to leave shots in its locker.

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.