London event drops taxes to lure Bolt for July meet

LONDON Thu Feb 7, 2013 2:55pm IST

Jamaica's sprinter Usain Bolt (L) looks on as the Miami Heat met the Boston Celtics during their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity/Files

Jamaica's sprinter Usain Bolt (L) looks on as the Miami Heat met the Boston Celtics during their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida, October 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Innerarity/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt and other overseas athletes will be able to compete tax-free in this year's London Diamond League event at the Olympic Stadium after the British finance minister agreed to a "one-off" exemption.

Jamaican Bolt, who won three golds at last year's London Games, had not previously raced in the United Kingdom since 2009 because of tax rules which would have left him out of pocket.

"The Government is determined to do everything possible to secure the Olympic legacy and I am delighted to grant this exemption," Finance Minister George Osborne was quoted as saying in Thursday's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The London meeting, switched from its traditional Crystal Palace home to the Olympic Stadium to mark the first anniversary of the Games on July 27, is expected to be a 80,000 sellout and would have been damaged by the absence of athletes such as Bolt.

British tax rules mean that visiting overseas athletes would have paid tax on their earnings from the meeting but also on part of their global income including sponsorship deals.

Despite Osborne's intervention, Bolt has yet to confirm his attendance.

"I think it's about two weeks before the World Championships (in Moscow), which is quite late, but it's London and it's the Olympic Stadium again so it obviously has an attraction," his agent Ricky Simms said.

(Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by John O'Brien)

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