Test events begin in earnest

A year after staging their first and only test event so far, a regatta, Athens Olympics organizers will begin testing facilities in earnest next month with seven of the total of 40 scheduled test events to take place throughout August. World and European competition, at junior level, is included on the agenda. The objective of these Olympic test events is to offer training and real experience to personnel, including volunteers, to test venues through competition, and to provide full checks on technology installations at venues. Ultimately, officials will be looking to take note of errors, and rectify them ahead of next summer’s Olympics, which begin on August 13, 2004. Some test events will be open to fans and journalists, Greek and foreign, as a first taste of the Athens 2004 Olympics. Organizers said yesterday that further information regarding the public’s participation would soon be posted. Athens 2004, the Olympiad’s organizing committee, is legally bound to staging test events for all sports. The test events are limited to an operational level. A full-scale effort would double the cost of staging an Olympiad. The cost of the test events is estimated to be 1.5 percent of the organizing committee’s total budget. The schedule for next month’s test events begins with the Junior World Rowing Championships at the Olympic Rowing Center in Schinias, 41 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Athens, between August 6 and 9. Some 800 contestants from 55 countries will be taking part. An archery tournament will follow at the Panathenaic Stadium, the old Olympic Stadium in central Athens, between August 9 and 15. A total of 128 entrants from approximately 30 nations will take part here. Three test events will be held concurrently, between August 15 and 17. A horse-riding competition has been planned for the Olympic Equestrian Center in Markopoulo, 45 kilometers from central Athens. Thirty competitors from 10 countries will compete. Also between August 15 and 17, organizers will stage a canoeing event at the Olympic rowing facility in Schinias. Some 180 athletes from 25 countries are expected to test their strengths. Coinciding with this three-day period, the World Junior Cycling Championships will be held at Vouliagmeni, southern Athens and in the center of Athens (the open road race). A total of 440 cyclists will take part, with 150 media representatives attending. A men’s beach volleyball event will be held between August 19 and 24 at the sport’s Olympic facility in the Faliron district, southern Athens, with close to 50 contestants from 15 countries taking part. The Olympic test events for the month of August will end with the Athens 2003 Regatta between August 20 and 28 at the sailing facility in Aghios Cosmas. A total of 412 athletes from 42 countries have registered for the event.