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Championships to Test Games Preparations
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With the 11th International Softball Federation Women's Softball World Championships approaching, relevant departments of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) see it as an ideal chance to test the preparations for the 2008 showpiece.

The championships will be the first international sports event held at one of the capital's Olympics venues.

"The softball world championships this time will not just be a sports competition, but a test event for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," said Jiang Xiuyun, vice-president of the Chinese Softball Association.

"The organizing process will involve more departments than usual and close co-operation is required between all of them."

The championships will be held from August 27 to September 5 at Fengtai Softball Field in Beijing's southwestern Fengtai District.

A total of 272 players representing 16 teams will participate. The top four teams will automatically qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

According to Jiang, the organizing group for the event has been set up by BOCOG, and about 500 staff will be involved.

"It is the first time that an operating group for a sports competition here has involved so many departments, such as security, media and transportation," said Jiang.

"All the preparatory work has been in line with the Olympics standards and we need a lot of time to co-ordinate such a large work group."

In order to better serve the event, training sessions on the rules of softball and spectators' behaviour have been held in Fengtai District.

A simplified softball game has also been promoted among school students in the district as well to arouse their interest in the sport.

A special bus line will be opened to spectators instead of providing huge parking lots for cars at the site.

Work on the Fengtai Softball Field is due to be completed by the end of this month and will be the first Olympics venue in Beijing put into use.

Covering an area of about 15,570 square metres, the venue has two competition grounds and two training fields.

(China Daily June 17, 2006)

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