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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Two mini trucks carrying ‘Olly’, the mascot of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship to be held at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar next month, were flagged off by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today for road shows across the State during a 22-day tour.

Elaborating on arrangements for the Asian Athletics Championship from July 6 to 9 at the Stadium in which 1,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries will participate, Chief Secretary AP Padhi, present at the flag off ceremony said, “Preparations for the international sports event including setting up of floodlights and track laying work at the stadium are almost over. However, currently the biggest challenge for us is to make the city a world-class type.”

Padhi added, “Athletes are expected to reach the city in next 10 days for the championship. As a host state, the Odisha government will make all necessary arrangements such as accommodation, food, sight-seeing visits and transportation for the athletes and officials.”

He further stated Odisha Tourism will showcase its best products during the global event.

While one of the two well-decorated mini trucks to visit the State’s south-western parts via Khurda, Puri and Ganjam districts, the other vehicle will tour northern Odisha en route Bhubaneswar, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara.

Both the vehicles carrying ‘Olly’ will reach Kalinga Stadium here after the tour across Odisha on July 2.

Apart from Padhi, Culture Minister Ashok Panda, Sports Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera and other secretaries and Collectors of 30 districts were present at the flag-off ceremony of the vehicles carrying the mascot at the stadium here.

It is worthwhile to mention that Odisha plays host to such a global sports event for the first time whereas the country is organising such an event for the third time. Initially, Jharkhand was proposed to host the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship which the State declined.

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