More than 1000 athletes from 45 countries will take part in 42 disciplines in the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Bhubaneswar from 6-9 July, making it the biggest ever in the competition’s history.
The championships will also serve as a qualifying event for this year’s IAAF World Championships, to be held in London in August.
The 22nd edition of the Asian Championships will see the largest contingent of athletes in the competition’s history, with the double of 497 from 40 nations who took part in the last edition held in Wuhan, China in 2015, participating this time around.
Earlier editions of the championships have been held in New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013), making Bhubaneswar the third Indian city to host the flagship athletics event in Asia.
The Odisha capital was roped in as the host city after Ranchi pulled out at the last minute.
The multi-purpose Kalinga Stadium, which will also host the Hockey World Cup next year, is being transformed to become a world-class track and field facility, meeting all the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standards.
Along with a newly-laid all-weather synthetic track equipped with floodlights, a state-of-the-art warm-up area has also been constructed to make it a world-class training facility in the span of a little over two months.
The Government of Odisha has left no stone unturned to make this event a reality, putting together an Asian Athletics Championship in a record time of 90 days, highlighting the state’s commitment to promote sports, tourism and industry.
Commenting on Bhubaneswar hosting the event, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “Asian Athletics Championships 2017 will offer great exposure to Odia athletes who will be competing with some of the best sportspersons in the world. This mega event will definitely help in raising the profile of the state in the field of sports.”
Olympian Dutee Chand, who won 100m gold at the recently concluded Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Meet at Patiala, said: “Kalinga Stadium is my nursery. I’m elated to see the Asian Athletics Championships held in Odisha. I will run on the tracks at the place where I started my career from.