Odisha turns 90 days challenge into Nation’s Pride all set to host 22nd AAC

Host city Bhubaneswar gets ready in record time with world-class Kalinga Stadium.

With just 90 days given to prepare, the Government of Odisha and the Athletics Federation of India pulled off an incredible story by putting together the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship in record time. In a glittering curtain raiser a special film highlighting the planning, monitoring and supervision of the Asian Athletics Championship was showcased.

The 22nd Asian Athletics Championship is Asia’s biggest athletics event, being hosted by Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha from July 6-9. This is the third time the premier track and field event of the continent is being held in India after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013), and is a qualifying event for the IAAF World Athletics Championships to be held in London later this year.

Dignitaries including Shri Chandra Sarathi Behera, Honourable Minister – Sports and Youth Services – Government of Odisha, R Balakrishnan, Development Commissioner cum Additional Chief Secretary – Government of Odisha, Vishal Kumar Dev, Secretary cum Commissioner – Sports – Government of Odisha, Dr. Sunil K. Bhargava – Chief Resident Commissioner, Government of Odisha, Sanjeev Chopra, Principal Secretary – Department of Industries – Government of Odisha and Nitin Jawale, Director – Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha presided over the press conference, highlighting the hurdles they faced along the way to deliver a stadium of international quality after taking up the “90-Day Challenge”.

Legendary Olympians Anju Bobby George, PT Usha and Shiny Wilson were also present at the press conference along with AFI President Adille Sumariwalla, celebrating the occasion of Bhubaneswar’s makeover to gear up for the premier track and field competition of the continent, which runs from July 5-9, 2017. Speaking on the occasion, Chandra Sarathi Behera, Honourable Minister – Sports and Youth Services – Government of Odisha, said: “Odisha has been at the forefront of major development in all sectors, and sports has been a major contributing factor towards the development of the state. With world-class events coming to Odisha, the state is quickly becoming one of the emerging hubs of sports in the country. The Asian Athletics Championships will also give a chance to the best Odia athletes to perform in front of their home crowd.”

Adille Sumariwalla, President, Athletics Federation of India, said: “The preparations for the Asian Athletics Championships have been top class right from the day Odisha decided to host the event. This is going to be the biggest competition in the event’s history. AFI is overseeing all the preparations with respect to accreditations and arrangements for the athletes and officials. I must thank the Government of Odisha for their continued support. With the quality of facilities Kalinga Stadium has, I’m sure we will be hosting many national and international athletics meets in the years to come.”

The Government of Odisha took up the challenge with utmost care, and a stage-wise execution of every task was carried out by special teams on a daily basis. These tasks were carried out in consultation with the Industrial Development Corporation Odisha (IDCO), Works Department, and every matter was reviewed by the Honourable CM Shri Naveen Patnaik. Jharkhand’s late pull-out from hosting the AAC meant it was not a budgeted event for Odisha. All the funds for the development of the stadium had to be done from the contingency fund of the state, while a number of corporates reached out with strong financial support to organize this event.

The completion of the Kalinga Stadium was carried out in three parts such as Completion of track for the laying of both the tracks in the main stadium as well as the warm-up area, original equipment was sourced from various manufacturers based abroad to ensure supplies were organized. Both tracks were completed before the May 31 deadline and Installation of floodlights, three parties emerged from the tender, with Bajaj winning the mandate. Supplies were directly airlifted from Italy, and all the four towers were commissioned and tested the same day they were put up, finishing the work on June 17. The works department took all measures to complete the renovation and upgradation of the stadium facility.

Any issue was escalated to the top management of the companies executing the work. All companies deputed their senior management personnel to monitor their progress in Bhubaneswar. Secretary, Sports – Government of India Mr Srinivas and MrAdille Sumariwalla, President – Athletics Federation of India were constantly in touch with them to ensure timely delivery and handover.

The Government of Odisha had to execute the following tasks within the allocated 90 days:

Preparation of main track and practice track, high-mast floodlights and escalators

- Arrangement of transportation, accommodation and medical arrangements for athletes and delegates

- Media and PR coordination, vending and promotions

- Mobilization of 600 volunteers

- Planning and creation of opening and closing ceremonies

The meticulous and methodical approach taken by the Government of Odisha in the execution of the massive task on hand meant that it went beyond the call of duty to fulfil every requirement and set the stage for hosting the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships.

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