NEARLY $50 million worth of sports sponsorship has been generated in Hong Kong through the Sports Development Board over the last four years. However, this amount only reflects the deals brokered by the SDB's Sports Sponsorship Advisory Service, which was set up in 1991. The actual amount of sports sponsorship money in Hong Kong, according to an SDB official, is significantly higher as many companies directly approach clients rather than going through the SDB's service. The official said: 'That figure would be very difficult to estimate as many corporations do not want to disclose how much they spend on events.' The survey, based on responses from 418 of the 1,800 companies approached, show that firms prefer to invest marketing money on sports rather than charity, academic, cultural and other activities. Over 200 companies were represented at yesterday's SDB Sponsors' Luncheon which was used to encourage firms to increase their support of sport. The guest speaker was leading Hong Kong rower Ho Kim-fai, who won a silver medal at last year's Asian Games in Hiroshima and a gold medal in the 1993 East Asian Games in Shanghai. Using top tennis player Michael Chang, who has millions of dollars worth of endorsements, as a yardstick, Ho said: 'The reality is that, for every Michael Chang, there are hundreds, even thousands, who are not sponsored. 'Without sponsorship, I could not survive. I'm lucky in Hong Kong to have the support of the SDB. 'Whatever level of help you provide, big or small, the respect and approval you will receive will be just the same.'