London 2012: Basketball & BMX first Olympic Park events

The Olympic Park
The Olympic Park will host sporting events starting in August

Basketball and BMX will be the first competitive sports to take place in the Olympic Park, organisers have revealed.

As part of the London Prepares series of test events, London 2012 will charge for tickets for four sporting events.

Basketball (16-21 August) and BMX (19-20 Aug) are joined by mountain biking (31 July) at Hadleigh Farm in Essex and beach volleyball (9-14 Aug) at Horse Guards Parade in central London.

Testing at Olympic venues will take place between May 2011 and May 2012.

Full schedule of events on the London 2012 websiteexternal-link

In total, there will be 17 international events which were already in the sporting calendar, plus 25 London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) invitational events.

The basketball is a men's event only, with Great Britain, France, China, Australia, Croatia and Serbia taking part.

The beach volleyball test event will involve the women's teams from Great Britain and China.

The BMX and mountain biking are open events meaning more riders will take part than during the Games.

The main areas of testing are fields of play, technology and people - which includes athletes, spectators, staff and volunteers.

More than 150,000 tickets are expected to go on sale and Locog chief executive Paul Deighton believes the preparations are key to a successful Olympic Games next summer.

"We need to take our plans and test them on the ground, really this is the most important part of our readiness mission," said Deighton.

"Although our venues won't be dressed in their Games finery, a number of events will give the public a chance to see some world-class sporting action ahead of next year.

"These events are our opportunity to try out our new venues, test new technology and equipment and walk our extended teams through their roles and responsibilities.

"We have learned a lot from previous Games which we will put to good use as we challenge ourselves over the next 12 months."

Athletes' representative Jonathan Edwards - Olympic triple jump champion in 2000 - said the test events would be helpful for organising the Games for athletes.

He does not believe the lack of an elite test event in the stadium will disadvantage track and field athletics.

"Athletes are at the heart of this. We can see what went right, what went wrong and how we can improve it," said Edwards.

"As a field of play, one stadium is the same as another, so I don't think it will affect them at all.

"For a lot of our athletes, the idea of competing in the Olympic Stadium for the very first time is an important motivational tool."

Locog has revealed there will be three types of events during the testing. These are:

  • Locog organising, with no tickets being made available - eg volleyball, canoe slalom.
  • Locog organising, with tickets made available to the public - the first of these will be basketball, BMX, mountain biking and beach volleyball events this summer.
  • Locog using other organisers' events - eg marathon, race walk, Wimbledon, rowing, triathlon, badminton.

In addition to the four ticketed events, there will be two more at Greenwich Park - equestrian and modern pentathlon - which will comprise of local spectators who have been given free tickets by Greenwich Council and members of those sporting associations.

More than 10,000 volunteers, 8,000 athletes from more than 50 countries and more than 250,000 spectators will take part in the 12-month rehearsal for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

According to Locog, factors to be tested include:

  • Ticket scanning at beach volleyball
  • Laser shooting in modern pentathlon
  • Radio interference effects at Weymouth and Portland
  • A new platform for the equestrian events at Greenwich Park
  • The delivery of 3,000 tonnes of sand for beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade
  • The first competitive use of the water at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hertfordshire, for canoe slalom
  • New presentation graphics at the Basketball Arena

The final test event is scheduled to be the London Disability Grand Prix on 8 May, 2012, at the Olympic Park.