Lawn Tennis head wants tax change

LONDON -- A change in tax laws may help persuade such stars as Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt to compete in Britain.

Nadal plans to skip the pre-Wimbledon Queen's tournament next year because he says he'll lose money. Bolt, the Olympic track champion, also doesn't run in Britain because of the taxes.

International athletes are taxed on prize money and appearance fees in Britain, along with a portion of their worldwide endorsement earnings.

Chief executive Roger Draper said Wednesday that the Lawn Tennis Association is lobbying the government for a tax exemption to be included in the next budget statement in March. Athletes at the 2012 London Olympics have been granted an exemption.

"The government (is) taking it seriously and we are very hopeful, but there are no guarantees," Draper said.

A tax exemption could help London's O2 Arena extend its hosting rights for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals beyond 2013.

"It's a question of getting the right time to sit down with the ATP to have discussions," Draper said. "The player tax issue has got in the way and we want to have that issue out of the way."

The government has so far only granted exemptions on an event-by-event basis, such as the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley and the upcoming Olympics.

The tax law was implemented after Britain's tax authority won a landmark case against Andre Agassi in 2006. He was ordered to pay tax on a portion of the money paid to him by Nike and Head because he endorsed their products at Wimbledon and other events in Britain.

Nadal, who is competing at the ATP World Tour Finals this week, said Sunday the "tax situation here is tough for the sport, for the big events like this."