Hockey
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International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Narinder Batra on Thursday said that Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium, with an increased crowd capacity of 15,000, will be almost ready by July, months before it hosts the Hockey World Cup beginning on November 28.

Batra said the FIH is pleased with the work carried out by the Odisha government in making Kalinga Stadium ready for the quadrennial hockey showpiece, to run from November 28 to December 16.

"Earlier, the main stadium had a capacity of 7,500. Before the World Cup, that crowd capacity will be doubled -- currently, seating arrangements are being done," Batra told IANS on the sidelines of an event to announce Odisha's sponsorship association with the national men's and women's hockey teams.

"New turfs will be laid at both the grounds inside the stadium. And the work will be completed by July," he added.

The FIH has asked the state government to arrange accommodation for around 1000 players and officials from the participating countries.

Batra, the former Hockey India (HI) President thanked Odisha for its support.

In his capacity as Indian Olympic Association (IOA President), he also requested Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to build a High-Performance Centre for all sporting disciplines.

Recalling that Odisha successfully hosted the Asian Athletics Championships, Batra said that Bhubaneswar is going to be the sports capital of India.

"The Odisha government is showing great support. For this hockey World Cup, they have moved very quickly in finding solutions to different issues in terms of getting all the facilities in place at the right time," Batra said.

The FIH President also clarified that Pakistan will participate in the World Cup. "The process and protocol in terms of coming for the tournament in India is same for every country," Batra said.

(IANS)