**Bhubaneswar**: The State Government has roped in renowned artists from across the country to showcase the art and culture of the State to the global audience through a star-studded opening ceremony of 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at Kalinga Stadium on the evening of July 5.
Official sources said Prince Dance Group and Zenith Dance Group will perform acts based on themes of Odisha’s glorious past, heritage, culture, Buddhist connection with other countries and modern time.
The opening ceremony of the mega sporting event will witness performance by over 500 artists. The cultural programme to be held between 6 pm and 8 pm on Wednesday.
“Spectators can enter into the stadium after 3 pm and guests will come at around 5 .45 pm. Formal programme will begin at 6 pm which includes march fast and flag hosting with playing of national anthem,” said Balwant Singh, in-charge of ceremonies of the Asian Athletics Championships.
He also said the cultural programme will begin after all athletes take their respective seats. Famous Odissi dancer Aruna Mohanty and her troupe will perform three acts on Kalinga War, Peace and Buddhist culture.
Besides, Bollywood singer Shankar Mahadevan will sing Rangabati and his popular breathless number before the concluding fireworks.
Meanwhile, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has expressed happiness over the preparation by the State Government in a short span of time.
“All the arrangements for the championship are very good. The Government of Odisha, especially, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has done a fabulous job in staging the mega event in a very good manner,” said AFI Secretary K Valson.
The championship will become the biggest event in the competition’s history as nearly 1000 athletes and delegates from 45 countries will take part in 42 disciplines in the sports event. It will be a qualifying event for the IAAF World Championships in London. This is the third time the event is being held in India, after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013).