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Racewalk Challenge to give athletes first glimpse of Bird's Nest
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08:25, November 09, 2007

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Athletes from all over the world will get acquainted with the Bird's Nest, the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, during the 2008 IAAF (International Athletics Association Federation) Racewalk Challenge, which will be held there April 18 and 19. It will be the venue's first test event.

The event's organizing committee, which was established yesterday, said there will be two athletic test events for the National Stadium, which has been dubbed the "Bird's Nest" due to its unique appearance. The 2008 China Athletics Open will also be held there next year from May 22 to 25.

Those test events will be the first opportunities for athletes to experience the stadium before the opening of the Olympics.

Located at the north end of the city's central axel line, the National Stadium will hold the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games, all the athletic events and the men's soccer final.

The 2008 IAAF Racewalk Challenge will mark the inauguration of the stadium. With the starting and finishing lines in the Bird's Nest, participants can also walk along the Olympic Landscape Road, which is located in the Olympic Green.

It will be the first time the IAAF Racewalk Challenge will be held in Beijing. The previous four editions were in cities in southern China. It will featuring three events - men's 20km and 50km and women's 20km - and is expected to attract some 200 athletes from all over the world.

Popular Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang is expected to make his Bird's Nest debut next May during the China Athletics Open, a comprehensive athletic test event ahead of the Beijing Games.

According the event's organizers, the 2008 China Athletics Open will be operated in line with Olympic standards, including 42 Olympic events and four Paralympic wheelchair events.

"It's a valuable opportunity for all the athletes to get themselves prepared for the venue, and the time of the event is suitable for them, so I believe most of the world's top athletes will take part in it," said Shen Cunde, vice-director of the venue's operation team.

He added that most of the referees working for the 2008 China Athletics Open will also officiate the athletic events at the Olympic Games.

The 2008 China Athletics Open is expected to attract more than 1,000 athletes.

The National Stadium is still under construction now, with the main structures having been finished. According to the schedule, it will be completed and delivered to use by the end of next March.

Source: China Daily

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