Bhubaneswar, June 19: For the first time Odisha will be hosting the mega sports event of athletics, Asian Athletics Championship during the first week of July. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik flagged off the Asian Athletics Championships’ mascot rally at the Kalinga Stadium.
Olly, the Olive Ridley sea turtle, is the official mascot of the 22nd edition of the athletics meet being held here from July 6-9. Olly will tour all 30 districts of the state to spread awareness and publicity for the event. He added the beautifully designed mascot will generate awareness amongst the masses and create a sense of belongingness to the championships.
CM Patnaik said that “Bhubaneswar has emerged as a sought-after destination for international sporting events. The 22nd Asian Athletics Championships will be the largest ever sporting event in Bhubaneswar with participation of 45 countries.” “The Olive Ridley turtles are our state’s pride. And I hope that through our mascot, Olly, we can create more awareness about their protection and conservation throughout the country,” he added.
Sports Secretary Vishal Kumar Dev said that ““Through this, we hope to provide our athletes and sportspersons exposure to the best sporting talent in the world and raise the profile of the state in the field of sports. We are proud to be hosting Asia’s biggest athletics event.”
This is for the 3rd time that the Asian Athletics Championships will be held in India, after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013). Through this meet, the state government will be contributing towards raising awareness for protection of the endangered species and preserving their natural habitat.