Rutherford ‘changed mind’ more than awards

Greg RutherfordImage copyright AFP
Image caption Rutherford is a single of 12 individuals 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 thoughts about pulling out of the BBC Sports Personality show more than comments by boxer Tyson Fury.

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

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

Media captionTyson Fury responds to Sports Personality criticism

But the lengthy jump champion reconsidered and said he would attend “to make my loved ones proud and to thank them for the assistance in my profession.”

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

“All through the subsequent two days the SPOTY team asked me to keep on. Also, I realised my nomination meant so much to my family.

“I then asked myself, do I actually want to disappoint my personal family just due to the fact of a bigot’s views? The answer was no.”

A petition calling for globe 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 possessing earlier released a statement in which he stated the BBC had been “hugely supportive” in listening to his views.

“I have been in discussions with the BBC concerning my involvement with SPOTY [Sports Character of the Year] after hearing what I think to be quite outdated and derogatory comments from a fellow nominee,” he said.

Rutherford stated society had “fought for generations” to give everybody the right to freedom of speech but Fury’s comments “undermine the struggles we have been via”.

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 planet 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 planet champion for 11 years.

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

Fury, who has given that relinquished the IBF belt with a rematch against Klitschko on the cards, has sought to clarify comments that a woman’s “very best spot is on her back”, as effectively as saying fellow award nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill – the Olympic heptathlon champion – “slaps up nicely”.

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 due to the fact I do not hate anybody.”

Scott Cuthbertson, who began the petition calling for Fury’s removal, mentioned: “He has repeatedly created degrading, insulting and homophobic and sexist remarks.”

Greg Rutherford on BBC Sports Character
“I am hugely honoured and privileged to be included on the shortlist for such a prestigious occasion alongside so several exceptional sporting personalities, the majority of whom I will proudly say to my son I had the possibility to meet.”