By Duncan Mackay

Usain Bolt_celebrating_after_crossing_the_line_Beijing_2008January 26 - Glasgow 2014 have today welcomed the announcement that athletes from outside the UK who compete at the Commonwealth Games will not have to pay income tax, an incentive designed to try to ensure high-profile stars like Jamaica's Usain Bolt compete in the event. 

The income tax exemption, announced by Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, mirrors a similar measure already in place for the London 2012 Olympics.

Under UK tax rules, any sportsperson not resident in the UK is subject to income tax on any payment in connection with their performance in the country, including a proportion of any worldwide endorsement income.

The controversial rule has also already led to Bolt refusing to compete in Britain's flagship athletics meetings, including the London Grand Prix. 

Alexander made the announcement during a visit to the Commonwealth Sports Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow to see progress on construction work.

"With six months tomorrow to go until London 2012, I'm pleased to announce this special exemption for Glasgow 2014 which will prolong the Olympic legacy and help spread the long-term benefits into Scotland," he said.

"Everyone wants to see the best athletes compete at Glasgow 2014 and this exemption will make that more likely."

Shona Robison_head_and_shouldersShona Robison (pictured), Scotland's Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, who joined Alexander on the visit, was pleased that the exemption was being extended from London 2012 to Glasgow 2014.

"I am delighted that an agreement has been reached to exempt international competitors from tax on any income arising from their appearance in the Commonwealth Games," she said.

"We want to deliver a memorable Games which attracts the cream of Commonwealth athletes to Glasgow 2014.

"Today's announcement is a giant stride forward and follows productive discussions between the Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee."

Glasgow 2014 chairman Lord Smith said the income tax exemption would open the door for elite international athletes.

"This agreement opens the door for the Commonwealth's elite international athletes such as Jamaica's sprinters, Australia's swimmers and cyclists and Kenya's distance runners to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games," he said.

"As a major multi-sport event, with a truly global reach, Glasgow 2014 and its Games Partners are working very hard to make the XX Commonwealth Games a 'must attend' event for the brightest stars of the Commonwealth.

"There is no doubt that today's announcement significantly increases the access and attraction for top performers to compete at Glasgow 2014." 

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