Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today joined “Pathotsav”, a vehicle-free citizen initiative, to seek people’s cooperation for making the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship being held here next month a success. Patnaik attended Pathotsav, earlier known as ‘Raahgiri Day’, organized on the Janpath here as the state government chose the innovative initiative to promote and publicize the international sports event as part of its citizen connect the drive. Describing the upcoming sports event slated to be inaugurated here on July 5 as a glorious moment for Odisha, the chief minister said Bhubaneswar is fully prepared to host the mega event to be attended by players and delegates from 45 countries.
Seeking people’s support and cooperation in making the upcoming event a grand success, Patnaik said the players and delegates should also be treated well. The center of attraction at Pathotsav was Olly, the official mascot for Asian Athletics Championship. A road show with mascot “Olly” for the Championship had earlier been flagged off by Naveen Patnaik here on June 12. Two decorated vehicles carrying “Olly” turtle, depicting the endangered Olive Ridley turtles which throng Odisha’s Gahirmatha beach for mass nesting, are covering all the district headquarter towns and cities of the state.
After crisscrossing the state, both the vehicles carrying the mascot are scheduled to arrive on July 2 at Kalinga Stadium here, the venue of the championship scheduled to be held from July six to nine. Over 1,000 athletes from 45 countries are slated to take part in 42 disciplines in the Asian Athletics Championships, first of its kind being held in Odisha. Earlier editions of the championships have been held in New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013), making Bhubaneswar the third Indian city to host the flagship athletics event in Asia, sources said.
The Odisha capital was roped in as the host city after Ranchi pulled out at the last minute. The multi-purpose Kalinga Stadium is being transformed to become a world-class track and field facility, meeting all the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standards.