Bhubaneswar: Smiling Olly, goodwill sports ambassador of Odisha, looked cool in a blue jersey and cap as it accompanied Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the inauguration of the newly-built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, the second venue for FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 slated to begin on January 13.
Over the years, Olly has caught the fancy and imagination of people in the state. It has been a favourite with the kids.
Naveen had earlier tweeted welcoming the world to Odisha with Olly as the mascot of the Hockey World Cup this time too to celebrate Olive Ridley Turtles and the state’s sustained effort to conserve their habitats.
Lakhs of endangered Olive Ridley turtles travel thousands of miles in the ocean and arrive in millions for mass nesting along the Odisha coast, particularly at the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, Rushikulya river mouth and Devi river mouth annually. And the state government has been making efforts for their conservation through a ban on fishing by trawlers and mechanised boat operators up to 20 km from the coast for almost six months and organising onshore and five offshore patrolling camps for keeping a close watch on the mass nesting of turtles.
Besides promoting awareness on Olive Ridley, it has been encouraging fair play and sportsmanship and winning hearts with its warmth, fun and frolic gestures during international events in the state.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT THE OFFICIAL MASCOT OF SPORTING EVENTS IN ODISHA
- It was in 2017 that Odisha unveiled Olly as the mascot of the Asian Athletics Championships, the largest-ever sporting event successfully held at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar in which around 700 athletes from 45 Asian countries competed. Three persons were engaged to act as Olly, two inside the stadium and one outside.
- Later that year, the Odisha government declared ‘Olly’ as the permanent mascot for all sports events, both national and international championships, to be held in the state.
- Following this, Olly became the official mascot of the World Hockey League finals and Hockey World Cup held in Bhubaneswar from December 1 to 10, 2017, and November 24 to December 16, 2018, respectively.
- During Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018, Nikhil Panigrahy from Bhadrak district, Satyanarayan Srichandan from Jankia of Khordha district, Upendra Jena from Balianta of Khurda, Dinesh Routray and Bikash Kumar Sahoo from Bhubaneswar donned the Olly costume weighing over 5 kg and shook legs and played with the audiences, making their evenings special. Dinesh had also acted as Olly during the valedictory ceremony of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships 2017.
In 2018, around 40 students of the Institute of Digital Media Technology, India (IDMT.In), a city-based institute, unveiled their version of Hockey world cup mascot ‘Olly’ and launched websites and social media handles to publicize the event widely. The group’s ‘Olly’ mascot wore a yellow cap with the caption ‘My heart beats for hockey’ written on it, a blue shirt and white pants with a hockey stick in its hand. The aim was to encourage the youth to take an interest in Olive Ridley turtles and hockey through animation and blogging.