Men's Hockey World Cup, 2023 got underway on Wednesday evening with a spectacular opening ceremony at the picturesque Barabati Stadium in Cuttack that was witnessed by thousands of hockey lovers in attendance from across the country and abroad.
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, International Hockey Federation president Tayyab Ikram and Hockey India chairman Dilip Tirkey were present at the glittering ceremony to welcome members of all the 16 participating teams.
Ikram, in his address, complimented Odisha for hosting the mega event twice consecutively, the last one being in 2018, and called the state the "Land of Hockey".
Thakur thanked the Odisha government for successfully hosting the event in grandeur and said the enthusiasm of the people of India and the state showed their love for the game.
He said the Centre will always extend support to states for hosting such sporting events.
Patnaik said Odisha has long been known for its hospitality and hoped every visitor takes back good memories of their stay in the state.
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union government for supporting Odisha in hosting the Men's Hockey World Cup twice consecutively.
The hour-long opening ceremony was preceded and succeeded by colourful cultural programmes that kept mesmerising the packed audience.
The celebration began with a stunning tribal dance art of the state, which was a fusion of at least six local dance forms choreographed by eminent dance guru Aruna Mohanty.
Odia singers Sniti Mishra, Rituraj Mohanty, Lisa Mishra and a host of other performers, including actor-couple Sabyasachi Mishra and Archita Sahu enthralled the audience.
Sixteen fan parks were set up at important locations across the city where thousands of hockey lovers and enthusiasts witnessed the opening ceremony on giant screens.
Hundreds of singers from Bollywood and local artists sang the Hockey World Cup theme song that was composed by music director Pritam, who also performed on the stage along with some other singers.
The matches will be held at two venues – Birsa Mundra Hockey Stadium in Rourkela and Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar -- from January 13 to January 29.
While 20 matches will be played at Rourkela, 24 matches, including the final, will be held in Bhubaneswar.
The state government has built a new hockey stadium in Rourkela ahead of the event.
Odisha is hosting the international event for the second consecutive time – previously it was held in Bhubaneswar in 2018.