Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the all-new Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today, which is hosting the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships from July 5-9. A cultural extravaganza marked this special occasion for the city of Bhubaneswar as the Honourable CM also unveiled the uniquely-designed medals for the Championships, as well as the plaques next to each renovated area of the prestigious stadium.
It was a day to rejoice for the city of Bhubaneswar as it opened its doors to the Kalinga Stadium for Asia’s premier track and field event, with a full line-up of athletes from Odisha, who have represented India at various sporting events. The Honourable CM also distributed cheques worth Rs 3 lakh to five prominent Odia athletes who have made India proud on the international stage i.e. Dutee Chand, Sarbani Nanda, Purnima Hembram, Amiya Kumar Mallick and Jauna Murmu.
Olympian and national record holder in the 100m women’s hurdles Anuradha Biswal, Asian Games silver medallist Pranati Mishra, Sushma Behera, former Indian women’s football captain Shradhanjali Samantray, BanitaLakra, who was selected for the World Police Meet, and a trio of athletes from the famed Sports Hostel of Bhubaneswar Latika Besra, Raibari Tiria and Sanjukta Mallick ran the inaugural race on the newly laid track, cheered on by the Honourable CM who cut a ribbon to declare the track open.
This momentous day for sports in Odisha and India was marked by festivities as the Kalinga Stadium reverberated with the sound of numerous dhol and shankha by local artists, as the Honourable CM was felicitated on the stage. The CM was then given a tour on a golf cart of all the renovated areas that include the main track, the warm-up track, the newly-installed elevators and state-of-the-art high mast floodlights.
Honourable Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik said: “Odisha has come a long way. After setting global benchmarks in disaster management, playing a major role in the food security of the country, becoming a state known for its transparency and anti-corruption measures, we wanted to take up this challenge to show the world how far we have come. The trust that the people of Odisha have put in us has allowed us to make Bhubaneswar the No. 1 Smart City in the country, besides setting benchmarks in the ease of doing business here. With the Asian Athletics Championships, we also want to showcase how ready we are to host global sporting events. We will also be hosting the Hockey World Cup next year, and in the future we want to be one of the most sought after cities when bigger sporting events take place in India.”
“As many as six athletes from the state participated in the Rio Olympics in 2016 – four hockey players and two runners – and I must remind you they were all women, which goes to show the women power Odisha demonstrated at the world stage.”
The entire work commissioned to complete the renovation of the Kalinga Stadium, besides the beautification of the city of Bhubaneswar to host the Asian Athletics Championships has been completed in record time. Ranchi, which was to host the event, pulled out at the last minute, giving Bhubaneswar just 90 days to prepare from the day the Government of Odisha said yes to hosting the Championships.
The entire work for the renovation of the Kalinga Stadium was completed by June 17, which included the competition area, warm-up area, high mast floodlights as well as the beautification of the seating area and the outside façade of the stadium. Work also included the renovation of all the rooms and toilets inside the Kalinga Stadium, laying of 3 lakh square feet of grass turfing in and around the stadium, and the installation of the 5000 new seats for spectators.
The Government of Odisha took up the challenge with utmost care, and a stage-wise execution of every task was carried out by special teams. As it was not a budgeted event for Odisha, all the funds for the development of the stadium had to be done from the contingency funds allocated to the state, while a number of corporates reached out with strong financial support to organize this event.