Bolt outshines rivals at Diamond League meeting in Lausanne
Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt has announced he will not compete at August’s Aviva London Grand Prix because of Britain’s tax laws.
The 100m and 200m world record holder may not now compete in the UK again until the 2012 Olympics.
New regulations mean the 23-year-old Jamaican could lose more money than he would earn from competing at the Crystal Palace Diamond League event.
“I am definitely not going to run [in London],” Bolt told a news conference.
Crystal Palace organisers had hoped to stage a three-way showdown between Bolt and his sprint rivals Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay.
Athletes competing in the UK are liable for a 50% 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.
HM Revenue & Customs won a case in 2006 brought by tennis star Andre Agassi. It successfully argued that as well as the prize money he accrued, a proportion of Agassi’s worldwide sponsorship income was also earned during his time in the UK and was therefore taxable.
HMRC bases its tax charge on the number of UK events athletes compete in. For example, if Bolt were to take part in 10 meetings worldwide, with one in the UK, the HMRC could tax him on one-10th of his worldwide earnings.
The UK’s tax laws have proved a handicap to the country’s chances of hosting events. Uefa admitted in 2008 that Wembley missed out on the 2010 Champions League final for that very reason.
The Government has since agreed to waive the rule so London can host the 2011 final, and competitors in the 2012 Olympics are also exempt.
Golfer Sergio Garcia has admitted in the past that he limits his appearances in the UK because of tax laws.
[Update made via BBC Sport]