Athletes and visitors at next month's Olympic Games will be well protected against bloodsucking parasites with organisers spending 300,000 euros on a mosquito eradication programme.

The main Olympic stadium complex, the Olympic village and the coastal rowing centre at Skinias are among five venues that will be sprayed with an organic pesticide.

This will help protect spectators from insect bites and also ensure the health of horses at the equestrian events, which are at risk from the Blue Nile virus.

The virus, which can lead to serious illness in horses and humans, is transmitted by mosquitoes, prompting a three-month extermination effort around the equestrian centre at Markopoulo, east of Athens.

Due to the fragile ecosystem at venues such as the rowing centre, built on protected coastal wetlands, only the biological pesticide BTI (Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis) can be used, officials said.

Filed by Barry J Whyte