Winning a medal for Denmark won’t be as lucrative for those participating in the Olympic Games in London as it was four years ago in Beijing. Brian Mikkelsen, the culture minister during the Olympic Games in Beijing, made the promise that the Danish competitors would again be exempt from paying taxes on their medal winnings in 2012.
As was the case in 2008, Danish athletes are in line to win 100,000 kroner as a bonus for a gold medal, 75,000 for a silver medal nets and 35,000 for a bronze.
However, the incumbent minister of culture, Uffe Elbæk from the Radikale (R), has now stated that the Olympians will not be excused from taxation after all, indicating that the Danish competitors should not be given preferential treatment.
“Brian Mikkelsen unfortunately made a promise, but as I pay my taxes so should the Olympians pay taxes from their potential winnings.” Elbæk told the daily MetroXpress. Carl Holst, the chairman of Team Denmark, finds the minister’s comparison of elite sports competitors to the average taxpayer as odd and thinks that the sportspeople should instead be equated as artists. “I think it’s a real shame. When artists get a one-time donation then it’s tax free, but that’s not the case for elite sportspeople. Not only is that unfair, but it’s discriminatory practice.”
Several sportspeople have been critical of the move, saying that it contradicts previous messages from politicians that highlight the need to properly support Danish sportspeople representing their country.
“It’s a poor message to give,” Victor Feddersen, a former Olympic gold medal winner in rowing, told Jyllands Posten newspaper. “One hundred thousand kroner sounds like a lot of money, but one needs to consider that the athletes have sacrificed a lot of their own money to live a normal life while pursuing a professional sports career.”
Rene Poulsen, a kayaker who won a silver medal in Beijing and is set to compete in London this summer, echoed the sentiment and is disappointed by the prospect of paying taxes on his hard-earned winnings.
“They say that it means so much for Denmark that we represent and win medals and that we have sportspeople represent Denmark at the Olympics Games,” he told Jyllands Posten. “ So I really can’t comprehend that we won’t get paid accordingly.”