A sports physiologist in Victoria has designed a cooling vest that will be worn by Canadian athletes at next month's Olympic Games in Athens.

Dr Gordon Sleivert, director of sport science and medicine at the PacificSport Centre, said that if the vests are worn for up to an hour before competing they help keep athletes' skin cool and reduce sweating.

The vests are filled with a gel that is chilled in a freezer, and are then worn over the athlete's upper body during warm-up.

Dr Sleivert said: "When athletes warm up with the thermo blazer on, it attenuates the rise in deep body core temperatures. They start an event cooler than they normally would be.

"That translates into performance enhancements and is safer for the athletes because they are not as hot.''

The Canadian Olympic Committee has ordered around 110 of the cooling vests for this year's Olympic games.