Men's Hockey World Cup, 2023 got underway 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 mesmerised 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.