Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth long jump champion says he did pull out of SPOTY over comments made by boxer Tyson Fury but later changed his mind

Greg Rutherford has spoken out about his involvement with the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) following reports that the Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth long jump champion was threatening to pull out of the awards if Tyson Fury remained on the shortlist.

It comes after controversial comments were made by boxer Fury about homosexuality, women and abortion.

In a series of updates on social media site Twitter, Rutherford said that he had requested to be removed from the shortlist, but that after speaking with the BBC he decided to remain on it.

“I have opinions, of which I was privately clear. I DID pull out of SPOTY, on Sunday I wrote to the BBC requesting removal,” he wrote.

“Throughout the next 2 days the SPOTY team asked me to stay on. Also, I realised my nomination meant so much to my family.”

A later tweet read: “So, I will still attend SPOTY, to make my family proud and to thank them for the support in my career, and that’s what I plan to do.”

In a separate statement released before his series of tweets, Rutherford had commented: “In light of seeing reports circulating regarding my involvement with BBC Sports Personality of the Year, I feel I should clarify the current situation.

“I have been in discussions with the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY after hearing what I believe to be very out-dated and derogatory comments from a fellow SPOTY nominee.

“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.

“After doing so, I can confirm that reports that I am withdrawing from the ceremony are not true.

“The BBC have been hugely supportive in hearing my own views and I am hugely honoured and privileged to be included on the shortlist for such a prestigious event alongside so many remarkable sporting personalities, majority of whom I will proudly say to my son I had the chance to meet.”

Rutherford is one of three track and field athletes included on the SPOTY shortlist, with Olympic and world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill and double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah also among the nominees.

Ennis-Hill had been drawn into the ongoing Fury controversy last week when the boxer was accused of making sexist remarks about the heptathlete.

Fury has attracted negative headlines since his victory over Wladimir Klitschko a fortnight ago. When asked about Ennis-Hill, he said: “That’s the runner, isn’t it? She’s good. She’s won quite a few medals. She slaps up good as well. When she’s got a dress on she looks quite fit.” He also went on to say:  “A woman’s best place is in the kitchen.”

Equality campaigners raised a petition calling for the BBC to drop Fury from the shortlist, which at the time of the publication of this story had attracted more than 125,000 supporters.

Ennis-Hill is currently second favourite behind Andy Murray to win the award with Fury fourth favourite, while Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford are further down the list.