Three successful international events at Odisha’s Kalinga Stadium proves it a worthy venue

Bhubaneswar: When it comes to hosting sporting events, the Odisha government leaves no stone unturned to make an impression. The sports lovers of the state do reciprocate through their support and cheer. No surprise, Odisha is regarded as the ‘Sports Capital of India’ and the iconic Kalinga Stadium here is standing tall to prove its testimony.

The stadium has earned the rare distinction of hosting two Hockey World Cups– one in 2018 and the other scheduled for 2023– back-to-back. As the venue gears up to host the FIH Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup from November 24 to December 5, 2021, here’s a recap of the three major international sporting events hosted by the stadium in the past that not only caught the attention of the nation but also global sports fraternity.

Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy, 2014

The 35th edition of the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy was held at the Kalinga Stadium between December 6 and 14, 2014. While a total of eight teams had participated, Germany emerged as the champion of the tournament and Pakistan ended up as the runner-up. As many as 24 matches were played during the tournament.

The finale was a match worth remembering as a fully sold-out crowd buzzed the stadium. After the commencement of the Final, skippers of both the teams praised the spectators for their love and support.

Germany Captain Moritz Furste went on to say that the atmosphere was like playing at home. “Bhubaneswar has proved that they can hold the World Cup here. Accommodation and hospitality was amazing,” he had said.

Asian Athletics Championships, 2017

It was for the very first time that Odisha hosted an international athletics event. Held from July 6 to 9, 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium, the Asian Athletics Championships, 2017 witnessed over 700 athletes from 45 countries competing for medals.

With this, Bhubaneswar became the third city of India to host the Asian Athletics Championships, after Delhi in 1989 and Pune in 2013.

But most importantly, the event will be long remembered for Odisha government’s brave and bold decision to host it at a time when Jharkhand pulled out from hosting the championships, merely three months before the scheduled date.

With only 90 days for the preparations, the Odisha Government pulled off a miracle by making the stadium event-ready, which at one time seemed almost impossible.

Realising a mammoth task at hand, the state government rose to the occasion and took up the ’90-Day challenge’ to transform the stadium.

Within a few weeks, synthetic tracks were laid at the main stadium and warm-up area along with 3 lakh square feet of grass turfing in and around the stadium, besides 5,000 new seats for the spectators.

The transformation work was carried out on war footing as new mast flood lights were also installed while four huge towers were airlifted from Italy. The process was completed well ahead of the May 31 deadline.

Watch documentary of the transformation in the video below.

Over 500 artists, including 400 Odissi dancers, and Bollywood composer & singer Shankar Mahadevan performed for the grand opening ceremony at the packed stadium. The World Athletics Federation praised Odisha for the state-of-the-art facility at the inaugural ceremony.

Men’s Hockey World Cup, 2019

Hockey fever gripped Odisha once again as the Kalinga Stadium hosted the grandest Hockey tournament, the World Cup, from November 28 to December 16, 2018. Belgium became the World Cup winners while Netherlands were the runner-up.

The tournament kicked off with a mega opening ceremony where Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman entertained the crowd.

The inauguration ceremony also enthralled the spectators with the biggest-ever drone flying show in the country.

The support of the people of Bhubaneswar during the entire World Cup was exceptional as fans in large numbers also attended those matches in which India didn’t play. From players to foreign visitors, all praised the hospitality and arrangements unanimously.

The Central Government, Hockey India and International Hockey Federation had also hailed Odisha for successfully hosting the event.

Also read: How Odisha Is Emerging As Sports Hub Of India.

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