Odisha sports secretary Vishal Dev has mentioned that the state government’s priority now is to host international sporting events in Odisha. Dev has also said that three cities can be picked by the Indian Olympic Association if the Olympics are allotted to India and Bhubaneswar can be one of them.
After recovering from the very severe cyclonic storm Fani, the Odisha sports department is currently hosting the FIH Series Finals at the Kalinga Stadium in the capital city Bhubaneswar. The venue has turned into a hockey hub now had also hosted the prestigious Asian Athletics Championships in 2017. The state sports and youth services department is also aiming to get the nod for the 2020 FIFA U17 Women's World Cup and the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in October-November this year if India qualifies for the event.
"Yes, we have plans to host (hockey Olympic Qualifiers). If we are offered we will definitely host it," Dev told PTI.
"Next month, we are hosting the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships and in November we are also hosting the Asian Rugby Championships. We also submitted a bid (to AIFF) to host the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup. Hosting international events is our priority.”
After the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra had said that India has an ambitious plan of bidding for the hosting rights for the 2032 Olympic Games, the secretary of the state sports department feels that Bhubaneswar can be one of the host cities from India.
"If there is a confirmation then we have more than 10 years (to prepare for Olympics). The Hon'ble Chief Minister has said that if Olympics ever happens in India, Odisha and Bhubaneswar should be one of the most prominent places. Three cities can be picked and Bhubaneswar could be one of them," Dev said.
"Whatever we have done for the sport and the kind of priority we give to sports, we should be one of the venues for hosting Olympics.”
With Odisha being devastated by cyclone Fani on May 3, there were a lot of doubts surrounding the organisation of the FIH Series Finals. There were reports that the Hockey India wanted to shift the tournament to Lucknow or Raipur.
"When the cyclone happened the first thing that crossed our mind is whether we can host the event, whether we will be able to give it the due time that it deserves. Dev said that the state government wanted to pass a message to the world by hosting the tournament at the Kalinga Stadium.
"Odisha is a state battered by natural calamities year after year but the spirit of the people and the spirit of the state is very resilient. So we thought we will get the infrastructure up and running. We also wanted to pass across a message to the outside world that we are back to business and what better way than to welcome international teams," the secretary concluded.