Bhubaneswar: Having hosted around five international sports events in the state capital, Odisha is now turning into a desirable destination for international sports events. It is not surprising, therefore, that stakeholders of this sector are optimistic that the road ahead is bright here.
The low population density of Odisha, new infrastructure for various athletic events, complemented by its improved air and rail connectivity and a plethora of tourist destinations seem to favour the state to become a hub of major international sporting events.
“Bhubaneswar, if not already, will soon be the sports capital of India. The infrastructure we have in Odisha – the hotels and other amenities, including the Kalinga Stadium, are not inferior to those in any other part of the country. Aside from the infrastructure, the active support of the state government towards promoting sports has helped the state to achieve the distinction of being the country’s potential sports capital,” actor and rugby mentor Rahul Bose told the media during his stay in the city for the U-18 Asian Girls’ Rugby Championship, Friday.
Echoing Rahul’s views, internationally famed athlete from Odisha, Dutee Chand, also said that state support and improved infrastructure in the capital city have proved to be a boon for sportspersons. “Today, Bhubaneswar is among the best suited locales for international sports events,” the Asian Games silver medalist observed.
“Odisha has a huge potential and it is already on the way to becoming a leading international sports venue,” she said while citing availability of new grounds and ample infrastructure for all major sports like excellent swimming pools, tracks and other amenities.
According to Dutee, unlike other big cities, the crowd is less in Odisha resulting in peace of mind for the players, who are otherwise always under pressure to perform. This is one reason why many sportspersons visiting the city to take part in different events favour Bhubaneswar as a venue. Apart from these, the tourism and hospitality sector is also enthusiastic about the increase in footfall of international players in the state. Simone Benjamine, former president of the Travel Agents Association of Odisha, said, “Odisha has a huge potential to become an international hotspot. You see the international connectivity. Two years ago, we had just 12 flights from Bhubaneswar, but now we have 55. This shows the growing interest of visitors in Odisha. We just need some more national and international chain of hotels to cater to the increasing
The state has already hosted several international sports events like the Asian Championship, Men’s FIH Hockey World League Final, U-18 Asian Girls’ Rugby Tournament and others. On the other hand, sports lovers here are now eagerly waiting for the Men’s Hockey World Cup and the maiden Ekamra Sports Literary Festival. The Ekamra Sports Literary Festival scheduled November 2-3 is being organised by the Odisha government in tandem with Emerging Sports.
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