March 24, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Portuguese air force is to close the airspace over stadiums, and patrol the skies with F-16 fighter jets on match days for Euro 2004. Similarly, Greece will have F-16s in the air during the Athens Olympiad.
, like Spain, was a vocal supporter of the US-led war against Iraq
and the bombings in Madrid have heightened fears that the country could also be a target of a terrorist attack, especially when it hosts the 16-nation Euro 2004 championship.
As evidence mounted that Islamic militants were behind the deadly train bombs in Spain, neighbouring Portugal beefed up security amid growing fears that the European football finals which the country will host this June could be a prime target for terrorists.
Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, made the decision to increase security following an emergency meeting held late on Sunday with the heads of Portugal's police and intelligence forces in Lisbon.
In a similar effort, Greece
will put up a 'missile umbrella' made up of Patriot, Stinger and Hawk missile batteries to protect Athens against terrorism during the Olympic Games.
The air defence umbrella will be completed with the presence of Mirage 2000 and F-16 interception fighter jets as well as the state-of-art engine turboprop aircraft T-6A Texan II and flying radar stations.
Four other Greek cities with Olympic venues will have similar protection.
Last Friday Athens formally asked NATO
to help provide securityfor the Athens Olympics. This would involve the use of four AWACS early-warning planes, a Czech unit specialized in dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, while NATO's permanent standing naval force in the Mediterranean would be supported by units from other NATO members' navies, probably under a Greek commander.