Bolt swerves UK taxes

Britain’s
sports minister has offered to help Usain Bolt sort out the tax issues stopping
the Jamaican sprinter from competing in London in August.

Triple
Olympic champion Bolt, 23, had been due to run at the Diamond League meeting at
Crystal Palace. But he pulled out on Monday, citing Britain’s prohibitive tax
laws.

Athletes
competing in the UK are liable for a 50 per cent tax rate on their appearance
fee as well as a proportion of their total worldwide earnings – which for Bolt,
who earns millions from endorsements, could be hugely costly.

“If
there is a particular problem with Bolt I’m happy to look at it and see if I
can help,” Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told BBC Radio.

“I’ve
not had a direct approach from either the sport’s governing body [UK Athletics]
or the promoters of the Crystal Palace meeting [Fast Track] so I don’t know
exactly what we are dealing with here.

“It
is a problem we have come across and addressed with other sports and clearly if
they write to me I will take it up with
the treasury.

“Golfers
and tennis players have come to me, and I’m pretty sure that at the back end of
the 2012 Olympic bill is a commitment not to tax overseas stars who come over
to compete in the Olympics.”

Robertson,
however, added that any change might come too late to see the 100m and 200m
world record holder take on rivals Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay at the south
London venue.

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