France scrum-half Antoine Dupont is among fifty French sports stars calling for the French electorate to reject Marine Le Pen at the polls.
The leader of the far-right National Rally party is involved in a run-off for the French presidency with the incumbent Emmanuel Macron.
During last weekend's first round of voting Macron topped the polls with 27.85 per cent, with Le Pen second on 23.15 per cent. A second round of voting to decide the president will take place on April 24.
But Dupont and dozens of other leading French sports personalities have penned an open letter asking voters reject the far-right ideology of Le Pen.
Among his fellow signatories were French football legend Jean-Pierre Papin, tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, basketball great Tony Parker, and Marseille playmaker Dmitri Payet.
Writing in Le Parisien, they reminded voters that the next French president will be in place when Paris hosts the summer Olympics of 2024.
"We cannot imagine that this historic moment could be scarred by the presence of the extreme right,” the collective wrote."
Macron won 66 per cent of the vote when he ran against Le Pen in 2017, but this month's vote will be a far tighter affair.
The 50 sports stars wrote, "Although we are well aware of the difficulties facing many people in France, voting for a party that would endanger republican values would be the worst of solutions.
“The sport we believe in, the one of the Olympic values, is made of friendship and respect; it is the place of diversity. It refuses all discrimination. Everywhere in the country, in our cities, our suburbs and our countryside, sport is a powerful remedy to exclusion.
“In these uncertain times, it is a vector of togetherness. This is the case when a whole nation remembers that it is ONE by cheering in unison behind the exploits of its athletes.
“It is because we believe in this sport, fraternal and inclusive, that we are committed to preventing our nation from placing at its head a president who embodies the very opposite; the stigmatisation of the other, withdrawal, nationalism. And that we therefore call for a vote for Emmanuel Macron on April 24th.”
Signatories: Clarisse Agbégnénou (judo), Samir Aït Saïd (gymnastics), Valériane Ayayi Vukosavljević (basketball), Brahim Asloum (boxing), Romain Bardet (cycling), Cécilia Berder (fencing), Alain Bernard (swimming), Marie Bochet (skiing), Laure Boulleau (football), Justine Braisaz-Bouchet (biathlon), Romain Cannone (fencing), Souleymane Cissokho (boxing), Élodie Clouvel (pentathlon), Cléopâtre Darleux (handball), Isabelle Demongeot (tennis), Stéphane Diagana (athletics), Boris Diaw (basketball), Céline Dumerc (basketball), Antoine Dupont (rugby), Gévrise Émane (judo), Maud Fontenoy (sailing), Pierre Gasly (F1), Edgar Grospiron (mogul skiing), Amandine Henry (football), Stéphane Houdet (tennis), Muriel Hurtis (athlétisme), Mickaël Jeremiasz (tennis), Nikola Karabatic (handball), Raphaël Ibañez (rugby), Jean Le Cam (sailing), Eugénie Le Sommer (football), Christophe Lemaitre (athletics), Laure Manaudou (swimming), Blaise Matuidi (football), Frédéric Michalak (rugby), Estelle Mossely (boxing), Earvin Ngapeth (volleyball), Valérie Nicolas (handball), Yannick Noah (tennis), Sarah Ourahmoune (boxing), Jean-Pierre Papin (football), Tony Parker (basketball), Dimitri Payet (football), Marie-José Pérec (athletics), Allison Pineau (handball), Thibaut Pinot (cycling), Jackson Richardson (handball), Charles Rozoy (swimming), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (tennis), Jessy Trémoulière (rugby), Cameron Woki (rugby), Tony Yoka (boxing).
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