UK

Greg Rutherford to attend BBC Sports Personality show despite Tyson Fury row

Greg Rutherford Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rutherford is one of 12 people shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality award
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015
Date: Sunday, 20 December. Venue: SSE Arena, Belfast. Time: 18:50-21:00 GMT. Coverage: BBC One, Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website.

Athlete Greg Rutherford says he changed his mind about pulling out of the BBC Sports Personality show over comments by boxer Tyson Fury.

Fury, a fellow award nominee, has expressed controversial views on women, homosexuality and abortion.

Rutherford said he planned to pull out of the event in Belfast on 20 December.

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Media captionTyson Fury responds to Sports Personality criticism

But the long jump champion reconsidered and said he would attend "to make my family proud and to thank them for the support in my career."

"I have opinions, of which I was privately clear. I DID pull out of SPOTY [Sports Personality of the Year], on Sunday I wrote to the BBC requesting removal," he said on Twitter.

"Throughout the next two days the SPOTY team asked me to stay on. Also, I realised my nomination meant so much to my family.

"I then asked myself, do I really want to disappoint my own family just because of a bigot's views? The answer was no."

A petition calling for world heavyweight champion Fury's removal from the shortlist of 12 has passed 120,000 signatories.

Image copyright Tyson Fury
Image caption Fury has been tweeting about Rutherford

Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth gold medallist Rutherford made his comments having earlier released a statement in which he said the BBC had been "hugely supportive" in listening to his views.

"I have been in discussions with the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY [Sports Personality of the Year] after hearing what I believe to be very outdated and derogatory comments from a fellow nominee," he said.

Rutherford said society had "fought for generations" to give everybody the right to freedom of speech but Fury's comments "undermine the struggles we have been through".

He added: "As such, I wanted to speak with the BBC about sharing a stage with somebody that had views that are so strongly against my own."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fury with his world championship belts at a homecoming event in Bolton

Heavyweight Fury, 27, won the WBA, IBF and WBO titles on 28 November from Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, who had been world champion for 11 years.

It led to the Sports Personality panel agreeing to add the Manchester fighter - and Great Britain's Davis Cup winner Andy Murray - to an extended shortlist of 12, shortly before it was announced on 30 November.

Fury, who has since relinquished the IBF belt with a rematch against Klitschko on the cards, has sought to clarify comments that a woman's "best place is on her back", as well as saying fellow award nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill - the Olympic heptathlon champion - "slaps up well".

Defending his views on homosexuality, Fury told BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show: "Let's not try and make me out to be some evil person and I hate gays because I don't hate anybody."

Scott Cuthbertson, who began the petition calling for Fury's removal, said: "He has repeatedly made degrading, insulting and homophobic and sexist remarks."

Greg Rutherford on BBC Sports Personality
"I am hugely honoured and privileged to be included on the shortlist for such a prestigious event alongside so many remarkable sporting personalities, the majority of whom I will proudly say to my son I had the chance to meet."

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