SCMP Monday, November 13, 2000
Fans greet vote outcome with disbelief
Sport and tourism leaders put a brave face on Hong Kong's defeat, saying the campaign had brought invaluable experience and benefits to the SAR.
Silence fell on the packed Queen Elizabeth Sports Stadium in Wan Chai, where more than 2,000 people had gathered, when Doha's unexpected victory was announced.
Many people cast doubt on the result minutes after the announcement, demanding a recount and saying the whole thing was "a political conspiracy".
A member of the Wong Tai Sin Tai Chi Association said: "This is a fraud. Where is Doha? Can anyone show me on the map?"
But sports leaders said Hong Kong should look on the bright side and accept defeat with good grace.
Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association chairman William Ko said the campaign had successfully stimulated public interest in sport.
"It is disappointing, but we shouldn't be too distressed. On the bright side, the campaign has brought sporting fever to Hong Kong. Both the Government and the public are now more enthusiastic than before," he said.
"On the whole, I believe the participation has done Hong Kong good."
Hong Kong Post-Secondary Colleges Athletic Association honorary secretary Patrick Chan Ting-cheung said Hong Kong did not have enough sports facilities to secure the games.
"We have very good supporting facilities, like hotels and the airport. But our existing sports facilities are just not good enough," he said.
Mr Chan said the bidding had had positive effects on local sport development because it attracted the public's attention.
Hong Kong Ching Yee Tai Chi Association spokeswoman Elaine Ng Yuk-lin said she was disappointed by the result but said she would support the Government in the next bid.
"Hong Kong must have more propaganda next time. We have learned a good lesson today and will do better in future for sure," she said.
Executive Council convenor Leung Chung-yin said the Bidding Committee had made a "very impressive presentation in a relatively short period".
"That truly reflects our organisational ability, our efficiency and our will to meet challenges," he said.
His optimism was shared by people from the travel industry. Legislator and Hong Kong Tourist Association chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said although the bid was unsuccessful, comprehensive media coverage had increased Hong Kong's international exposure.
"The association believes that apart from hosting major sports events, Hong Kong will continue to attract different types of events," she said.
But Friends of the Earth said Hong Kong should improve itself before "seeking to put on some shining labels".
Its spokesman, Eric Walker, said the SAR lacked a regional commitment to safeguard the environment and the Government had done little to promote sports activities.
Mr Walker said that according to a new study by local doctors on the participation level of Asian children in sport, Hong Kong teenagers ranked at the bottom of the list.
"It is ironic for us to bid for the Asian Games while our kids are the least active in sports throughout the region," Mr Walker said. The SAR had "a dismal record of environmental performance" and air pollution made outdoor activities unattractive.
"I don't know if these factors led to the defeat of our bidding, but I do hope the Government will learn a lesson from it," Mr Walker said.