Odisha's Hon'ble Sports Minister Shri. Tushar Kanti Behera declared the opening of the Indian Oil 20th National Para Athletic Championship 2022, triggering a burst of applause from the crowd, that marked the start of the first technically sound para athletic event ever, whose preparations were beset by the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2022
The event organizers put on an eye-catching opening ceremony at the Kalinga Athletic Stadium to mark the opening of the games which will see a record number of women participation. Bhubaneswar was the obvious choice of the organisers as the state is known as the 'Sports Capital of India'.
The Hon'ble Sports Minister was joined by the newly elected Mayor of Bhubaneswar, Smt. Sulochana Das, Ms. Deepa Malik, First Woman President of Paralympic Committee of India, Shri. Vineel Krishna, Secretary, Sports and Youth Services Department, Odisha, Shri. Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, Director (HR) of IndianOil, Shri Gurusharan Singh, Secretary-General, Paralympic Committee of India, Shri Kamala Kanta Ratha, President of Para Sports Association of Odisha, Director, KIIT and a host of other dignitaries of PCI, PSAO & IndianOil.
The highlights of the evening was the torch run by Odisha Paralympian Jayanti Behera, Sambalpuri dancers' precise, high-energy choreographed dance, followed by an exhilarating parade of athletes to the tune of the Odisha Police band. The Oath by athletes was administered by another Odisha Paralympian Markanda Reddy.
"My thanks to the Government of Odisha and KIIT for their overwhelming support without which this tournament wouldn't have been possible. I wish good luck to all the athletes who have come from different states and in the next few days will fight for glory."
The Hon'ble Minister of Sports, Government of Odisha in his address welcomed all the dignitaries on the dais and participating para-athletes to this hallowed grounds of Odisha. He said " Today is a day of exalted happiness for the state. In the last few years, we have conducted various international events starting from the 22nd edition of Asian Athletics Championship to the 2018 FIH Men's Hockey World Cup, but today is a unique spectacle.
It is a proud moment for our state that para-athletes from all corners of the country are assembled together and participating to show their exemplary skills and sporting excellence which will be witnessed by our state. As you are well aware that in the last decade, Bhubaneswar has become the Sports Hub of the country, a vision of our Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri Navin Patnaik and the Government of Odisha has taken a multitude of efforts of progression towards this vision by creating a global standard sports infrastructure, by imbibing high stands of sports discipline and also have encouraged a lot of sportspersons and these are now in the priority list of the government.
He added "Tokyo 2020 Indian Paralympians have made the country proud globally with their etch worthy performance and a landmark haul of 19 medals. We feel privileged to be associated with them in their journey of excellence and success. I thank PCI for giving us the opportunity to co-host this National Para Athletics Championship in association with PSAO. I sincerely hope that all athletes who have come to Bhubaneswar will perform well in their respective disciplines return back home with fond and rich memories.
Secretary-General PCI, Shri Gurursharan Singh, delivered the vote of thanks thanking all the stakeholders of this event for the magnificent opening of the IndianOil 20th National Para Athletics Championship, 2022.