Next month's International Softball Federation (ISF) XI Women's World Championship marks the debut of the new venue being built for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, so it's only fitting that the first game at the almost 10,000-seat stadium will feature China. The host team takes on Great Britain August 27 to lead off the 66-game schedule announced Thursday by the ISF. 

Also serving as the sport's Olympic test event, the world championship brings added significance in that it will qualify four teams for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 

The first seven days of play at the XI Women's World Championship will feature eight games each day, as round robin play takes place in the main stadium and the adjacent facility. Four playoff games will take place on Sept. 3, with four more the next day, followed by the 
bronze and gold medal games on Sept. 5. 

Other highlights of the schedule include DPR Korea and Greece each making their first-ever appearance in an ISF Women's World Championship, taking on South Africa and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Australia, respectively. The United States, the defending champion at the event, opens the tournament against Italy. 

A total of 16 countries will compete in the world championship. In addition to those mentioned above, the following will also be taking part in the tournament, which takes place every four years: Botswana, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Venezuela. 

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