THE announcement yesterday by the Executive Council that it will support a bid to host the 2006 Asian Games was a wonderful example of an attempt to put a positive spin on bad news. And not a very good attempt at that. More details will no doubt emerge later; but, judging by the tone of the statement, Exco is keen that Hong Kong should host the games, but is also making sure that any bid will be doomed to fail. However much Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Sports Federation and Olympics Committee, puts a brave face on the situation, the fact is that, without a great deal more government commitment to spend serious money, the bid will not even get off the starting blocks. Mr Fok, who has argued tirelessly that Hong Kong should mount a serious bid for the games or the opportunity would be lost for decades, must be a very disappointed man. Realistically, up against a supremely confident bid from Malaysia, Hong Kong's challenge has not got a chance. Kuala Lumpur already has a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities, including a 100,000-seat main stadium. What Hong Kong has to offer in comparison is paltry. Responding to the Government's statement, Mr Fok said he believed 'determination and confidence' are what counts in mounting a successful bid. How right he is. But he will be hard-pressed to find any determination or confidence in the Government's statement. Exco considers that upgrading existing facilities will 'meet the international standards for hosting the games'. True, no doubt. But this hardly sounds like the confidence and salesmanship that makes a bid successful. Unless the Government revises its commitment, a great opportunity will be lost. Hosting such events are not simply about making short-term 'net financial or economic returns', as the Government describes it. They are about putting cities on the map, they are about spin-offs, they are about boosting morale through a display of confidence and pride. Even so, perhaps when all the arithmetic is carried out, the gains simply do not measure up to the cost. In that case, the Government should state clearly that it does not offer its backing. The worst of all worlds is a display of half-hearted commitment that will fool no one. Certainly not those whose job it is to select the venue for the 2006 Asian Games.