By Piyush Rout
Residents of Bhubaneswar awoke today to warm humid, rainy weather and with lots of questions. What’s next after the last night roaring from the spectator to electric performance by athletes into cultural dance and firework smoke of the Closing Ceremony has cleared in what turned out to be a largely successful Asian Athletics Championships. Odisha’s tempestuous game ended with 4X400 mtr Women’s Relay Gold at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday night, but the debate on whether it was all worthwhile looks set to run on long beyond the official finish. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the mega event, which is in the news for right and wrong reasons.
As Asian Athletics Championships (AAC) were in the eye of a storm before they began but the splendid stadium management came as a turning point as games flag finally handed from Bhubaneswar to Doha, the host city of the next Games in 2019, in front of bountiful sections over ten thousands strong crowd at Kalinga Stadium with music & sound that looked as if much longer than the half-hour that concluded just before the midnight. The question for Bhubaneswar residents is what shape this legacy will take.
The economic up-liftment of poor in Odisha will not be relieved overnight, even in the wake of a successful Athletics Meet. The state is still in the midst of a serious transformation, with skill development and investment opportunity on the rise. While the assumptions of various indicators have to believed that were circulated during the game in news papers then the situation has bottomed out and can only get better. The Government’s formed new Team Odisha may involve more players with innovation savvy to push for major reforms keeping sports in and around to get state rise faster on the track.
It is also yet to be determined what impact game will have on various sectors of the Odisha economy. However, one sector that may experience a lift is tourism both in Bhubaneswar in particular and in the rest of Odisha. Despite the hiccups throughout the Games, many of games visitors will be returning home talking about the beauty of Odisha in their home soil, some will also relate how safety was not a big issue and the state is not really Poor. Their positive reviews could spur more tourism and help the Odisha recover from the damage left by its identity of being poor for a long time now.
However, the economic history of the Games certainly points to a low probability of significant short-term economic surplus, especially in a city new in this race. Similarly, the naming of the Games may have also brought international attention wrongly whether Odisha a City in Bhubaneswar or Bhubaneswar in Odisha; even damaging city’s brand when being a host city Bhubaneswar was swapped with Odisha turned into a self-imposed crisis of Identity that should have been avoided. Perhaps this was a missed opportunity when the host city Bhubaneswar was not showcased nor any opportunity presented of its identity in logo, it was not the best way to present a city in the eyes of the world.
But most people are simply delighted that the host nation enjoyed a reasonable degree of success in competitions. The medal haul is already the best in the nation’s history in this form of games. The running of the Games had problems at the begining particularly when many of the seats in stadium remain empty but with progress of game the seats got packed in weekends. However, for many spectators particularly sports savvy but unknown to game it was a bit surprise only to see track & field events as they were under the impression of watching multi sports Asiad Games as they saw in the newly painted graffiti in city’s wall. While for many it was also surprise to learn that why Athletics is one of the major Olympics Sports as inside one stadium they witnessed forty two medals having verity of track & field events.
Well evaluating the prospects for Bhubaneswar’s future off course would be by zooming what Games might benefit host city. Often there are three potential benefits a host city gets in a short-term; stimulus to a city’s economy activity and tourism; a medium-term boost to a city’s international stature and brand that results from being featured prominently on the world stage which was absent and finally, the long-term impact of what are typically substantial infrastructure investments and upgrades throughout the city were done also missing.
Good things are Bhubaneswar flooded with thousands of police and security personnel where foreign athletes and visitors those found time to move away from security to reinvent the city on their own eyes & lenses felt more secure. Similarly any games strongest pillars its volunteers assisting on almost every front, the thousand odd volunteers, trained for over months, earned a good name from guiding and controlling guests to extending small courtesies, they are done their best. On otherside in absence of games village thousands of athletes and delegates were happy being inside star hotels have left wide-eyed at the world class treatment along with secured by police & fire services.
Well the game still has to produce its financial balance sheet as well as how Green it was but over the weekend city witnessed the final curtain of the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships and life in Bhubaneswar will begin to return to normal so did Athletes, fans, and support staff returning to their home countries and temporary structures will be disassembled, security gates, trashcans and port-o-potties all would be returned to their storage and localites will get inside the stadium to enjoy their newly found track & filed arena to test how forty two gold medals were won. Yes the game is over but hopefully its legacy will live on to inspire generations.