Odisha to host 2023 men's hockey World Cup

After successfully hosting the 2018 men's hockey World Cup, India will once again stage the 2023 edition of the tournament

It was no surprise but the official announcement here on Wednesday confirmed the obvious – Odisha would continue to be the hotbed of hockey tournaments in the country with the FIH naming the city as the host for the 2023 Men’s World Cup.

It would the first time a country would be hosting successive editions of the premier tournament in the sport but the same city hosting it twice makes it even special. This time, however, Bhubaneswar (which hosted the 2018 WC) would share hosting rights with the Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.

“World Cup is the pinnacle of tournaments in hockey for the FIH. It needs to have a certain standard and, at present, only Bhubaneswar and Delhi have facilities up to that. Now Rourkela also has it, it only needs to be upgraded. Delhi is not possible because the stadium is completely occupied by the Union Home Ministry and severely restricting government rules,” IOA president Narinder Batra, who is also the FIH president, said.

Although Rourkela already has two turfs, they would need to be upgraded to FIH standards and Odisha sports secretary Vishal Dev expressed confidence of completing all necessary work before time. “We have three years and we already have a stadium with 20,000 capacity that belongs to the Rourkela Steel Plant. We also have the Panposh Sports Academy which will also be upgraded,” Dev said.

However, Rourkela is 330 kilometres away and although it has a domestic airport, the only way to reach there from Bhubaneswar is via road or train and the government would need a massive overhaul of the entire city infrastructure, not just the stadium.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also laid the foundation stone for 17 new turfs in each block of Sundargarh district, the hockey nursery of the state through a tie-up with Hockey India. The turfs, though, would use sand-dressed turfs, which do no need water and cost less.

The state government also announced the setting up of a permanent High Performance Centre at the Kalinga Stadium, catering to hockey and athletics and hosting the Abhinav Bindra Targeted Performing Centre. Currently, the ABTP and Naval Tata Hockey Academy operate out of the main hockey stadium building. “It would be spread over 1.20 lakh sqmt and have accommodation facilities also for all the players and staff. We have plans for 10 HPCs, the others including for swimming and shooting etc would come up outside,” Dev said.