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London unveils sports test events for 2012 Games

A track and field meet for British university athletes will be the first sports competition held in the Olympic Stadium in the buildup to the 2012 London Games.

London organizers on Thursday released a list of more than 40 test events that will be staged at Olympic venues over the next 18 months to prepare for the games.

The schedule includes a mix of world-level competitions and low-key invitational events.

"You do not want to face any conditions at competition time that you have not prepared for," London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe said. "Every aspect of our delivery needs to be the best it can be.

"We can 'road test' all our operational plans and make sure we have all the knowledge we need to deliver a truly memorable games in 2012."

No test events are planned for the signature Olympic Park venues — main stadium, aquatics center and velodrome — until next year.

The first competition to be held in the new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium will be the British Universities and Colleges athletics championships from May 4-7, 2012. That's less than three months before the opening ceremony in the same venue on July 27.

The $867 million stadium — which is expected to be completed this summer — will also host the track and field competition during the Olympics and the closing ceremony on Aug. 12.

The first official test event this year will be an invitational marathon on May 30. The annual London Marathon — to be held this year on April 17 — does not qualify as a test event because it has a different route than the Olympic course, which will include three loops of central London and not pass through east London.

This year's Wimbledon championships, from June 20-July 3, will serve as the test event for the Olympic tennis tournament to be held at the All England Club.

Among the featured events this summer will be a FIVB beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade in central London from Aug. 9-14 and the world badminton championships at Wembley Arena from Aug. 8-14. FISA will hold the junior world rowing championships at Eton Dorney from Aug. 4-7.

The first test event held in the Olympic Park in Stratford will be a men's invitational basketball tournament Aug. 16-21 featuring teams from China, Serbia, France and Britain. The Olympic basketball arena is a temporary venue that will be taken down after the games.

Other events in 2011 include a UIPM modern pentathlon World Cup final at Greenwich Park and Crystal Palace from July 9-10; an international sailing regatta in Weymouth and Portland from July 31-Aug. 13; an ITU World Championship series triathlon competition in Hyde Park from Aug. 6-7; and a BMX Supercross World Cup event in the Olympic Park from Aug. 19-20.

The first event at the new velodrome will be a UCI World Cup track cycling competition from Feb. 17-19, 2012. The 6,000-seat, $152 million arena was officially unveiled on Tuesday, the first venue completed in the Olympic Park.

The aquatics center will open next year with a FINA Diving World Cup competition from Feb. 20-26, followed by the British swimming championships March 3-10 and a synchronized swimming Olympic qualifier April 18-22.

Next year's schedule also includes an Olympic gymnastics qualifying competition from Jan. 10-18 at the North Greenwich Arena, also known as the O2 Arena. The ISSF will hold a World Cup shooting event April 18-29 at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

London organizers said many events will be open to spectators, while others will be held without fans and restricted to testing technology and field of play conditions. Tickets will be sold to some of the events.