Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is the odds-on favourite to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year prize on Sunday night, but much of the attention will inevitably fall on fellow nominee Tyson Fury.
The boxer has sent a legal letter to the BBC asking for his nomination to be withdrawn, something the broadcaster has refused to do.
Fury, who was shortlisted after he became the WBC world heavyweight boxing champion by beating American Deontay Wilder in February, says the BBC is “taking away his rights” by keeping him on the list against his wishes.
'I don't need any awards from any TV stations for me to know who I am and what I've done.'@Tyson_Fury explains why he asked the BBC to remove him from the shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) December 14, 2020
“I don’t want an award from someone to say I’m a sports personality,” he told the Jonathan Ross Show.
“I know what I am and who I am and I know what I’ve achieved, I know what I’ve come back from.
“I don’t need a glass trophy. I’m the people’s champion. I don’t need this glamorous trophy to say who I am and what I’ve done.”
It will be interesting to see whether Fury fans support their candidate by not voting for him, or whether Fury’s pleas have the opposite effect.
The 32-year-old was also a nominee in 2015, when there were calls for him to be removed from the shortlist due to comments he had made about women and homosexuality.
At the awards he apologised, saying: “If I’ve said anything in the past that has hurt anybody, I apologise to anybody who has been hurt.”
Fury joins Hamilton on a six-person shortlist which also includes jockey Hollie Doyle, six-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, England cricketer Stuart Broad and Liverpool football captain Jordan Henderson in a sporting year badly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hamilton, who secured a record-equalling seventh F1 drivers’ title this year, is the overwhelming favourite for the prize.
Doyle broke her own record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey before enjoying a Champions Day double at Ascot – including her first Group One aboard Glen Shiel in the British Champions Sprint.
She told PA: “It’s a massive, massive honour to be nominated. It’s pretty crazy, to be honest.
“I’d be gobsmacked if I won – I wouldn’t know how to react, I don’t think.”
O’Sullivan was nominated after his latest Crucible success, beating Kyren Wilson for his sixth global title in August. He is the first snooker player to be nominated since Stephen Hendry in 1990.
Broad took his 500th wicket in the series against the West Indies in the summer, becoming only the second Englishman after Jimmy Anderson to do so. He claimed 29 wickets in total in the five Tests against the Windies and Pakistan.
Henderson is nominated after skippering Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years, having also been their captain when they won the 2019 Champions League.
Henderson was also widely praised for his role in the #PlayersTogether campaign which raised funds for NHS charities during the pandemic.
Another footballer who emerged with huge credit from the year is Henderson’s England team-mate Marcus Rashford.
The Manchester United side led a successful campaign to extend the provision of free school meals for vulnerable children, and his efforts have earned him a special panel award from the BBC.
The Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2020 is 16-year-old diver Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, while the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year prize has been given to mixed martial arts star Khabib Nurmagomedov.
He claimed his 29th professional win – without a single defeat – over Justin Gaethje in October.