Greg Rutherford vowed to attend the Sports Personality of the Year awards despite disagreeing with Tyson Fury’s ‘outdated and derogatory’ comments.
The new world heavyweight champion refused to revoke comments he made to a newspaper comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, prompting Rutherford to issue his own threat to the BBC.
Rutherford’s inclusion in the shortlist of nominees comes after a stand-out year for the long jumper. Winning the World Championship in Beijing, the man from Woburn Sands became only the fifth British athlete to complete the grand slam Olympic, European, Commonwealth and World titles.
A petition to force the BBC to remove Fury from the final shortlist has already received more than 120,000 signatures, with Rutherford also among those questioning whether the boxer should be included.
But despite reports linking Rutherford to a withdrawl, the 29-year-old confirmed he would be attending the ceremony.
He did, however, separate himself from Fury’s views, labelling them outdated and derogatory.
“I can confirm that reports that I am withdrawing from the ceremony are not true,” he said in a statement.
“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the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY (Sports Personality of the Year) after hearing what I believe to be very outdated and derogatory comments from a fellow SPOTY nominee,” said the Olympic, world and European champion.
“Everybody has the right to freedom of speech, which is something that we as a society have struggled with and fought for generations to get to where we are now but by the nature of these comments, undermine the struggles that we have been through. 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.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Tyson Fury’s victory and subsequent crowning as world heavyweight champion was widely covered by media outlets and his inclusion on the shortlist is similarly recognition of his sporting achievement - it is not about endorsing his personal views.
“It will be for the public to decide who will be crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015.”