The 22nd Asian Athletics Championships, the biggest athletics event in the history of the state, inaugurated in the evening at Kalinga Stadium here on Wednesday..
Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister, Odisha has inaugurated the championship.
“We prepared a world-class event in just 90 days. With the Asian Championships, we welcome everyone to witness this spectacle. I am certain that this event marks the golden era of sports in Odisha,” Patnaik said.
After the formal inauguration, a performer dressed up as ‘Olly’, the mascot of the championship, led the march-past of athletes. ‘Olly’ represents the endangered Olive Ridley turtles found in coastal Odisha.
In the synchronized march past, all the players from 45 countries of Asia participated with National Flags of their countries. On behalf of Team India, sprinter Shrabani Nanda read out Oath for the players.
The opening ceremony had a cultural extravaganza. Reverberated with claps and fireworks, Kalinga Stadium, the venue of the event was packed with thousands of spectators while everybody enjoyed the Balloon Show. Finally followed colourful cultural programmes presented celebrated artists.
Journey of Odisha – right from the Kalinga war during the reign of emperor Ashoka, to the spread of Buddhism in the region and its subsequent modernity was told through various dance forms. The Prince Dance Group and the Odisha Dance Academy present their programmes “Surya Upasana” while artists from other countries also performed an item titled “Ten Thousand Hands of Budha”.
Short films on Odisha’s Journey towards growth and development such as new opportunities, skilled in Odisha etc. were also shown to provide update information on State’s Development Scenario.
The narrative followed Odisha’s landmark history; right from its ancient temples to its pristine coastline, from its mighty rulers to their penance, from its beautiful simplicity to its fierce ambitions, all aspects were displayed through dance and art forms, some of them intrinsic to the region. Choreographed by famed Odissi dancer Padmashree Dr. Aruna Mohanty and Shri Ratikant Mohapatra, two different presentations enthralled the audience.
Celebrated Singer and Music Director Shankar Mahadevan headlined the celebrations with famous Odia song “Ranga Bati”.