Odisha Sports and Youth Affairs secretary Vishal Dev is currently busy with the preparations for the World Cup Hockey and the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival. Orissa POST catches up with him to learn about their preparedness for the two mega events. Excerpts from the interview:
How did the idea of a sports literary festival come up?
We came across renowned sports author Sundeep Misra who asked us why not host an international sports literary festival in Odisha as the state has now started hosting several international sports events. There were also suggestions of bringing in renowned sports stars and sports writers from across the globe who are brand ambassadors of their respective countries. So we decided to chip in and tried to bring sports luminaries from across the world.
What can the people of Odisha expect from this sports lit fest?
The event will witness some very interesting sessions wherein many eminent sports personalities will speak up about their lives and careers. Take for example former sprinter Ben Johnson. He was earlier mired into controversy due to the doping issue, but now he is an anti-doping crusader. Similarly, we have several other Indian as well as foreign sports stars and sports writers who will share amazing stories with the audience here.
What is the state of preparedness of the Sports department to ensure a good stay for the guests?
We have worked out the plan to ensure that the guests have a memorable stay in the state. We have ensured their welcome starting from the airport, stay at premier hotels, besides providing them an opportunity to explore some of the best places of Odisha.
Does the state government have any plans to let the visitors know Odisha in detail?
Besides participating in the Lit Fest, the speakers will visit some of the tourist destinations in Odisha. We have planned to take them to Kalabhoomi, Puri and Konark so that they get to know more about the state. Many people still have wrong notions regarding the state. We want to show them that Odisha has transformed during the last two decades. We want the speakers from across the globe to see the different facets of the state during their visit.
Has any measures been taken to ensure the visitors, especially foreigners, do not have any problem with their food?
Odisha has in the last few years hosted many international events and the hotels have now got accustomed to serve the palates of international guests by fulfilling their choices and needs. I believe that the city hotels are now well equipped to cater to the demands.
Odisha has hosted over five global events. Do you think Odisha is ready to become a hotspot for international sports events?
Yes. We are working to make Odisha one of the hotspots for international events. We have already hosted several major international sports events. We are trying to create more world-class infrastructure even outside Bhubaneswar so that international events could be hosted in other areas of the state. At the same time, we are also trying to improve the infrastructure in every district so that the best talents from Odisha be nurtured to for reputed national and international sports events.