Rhys McClenaghan has made a direct appeal to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) to allow him to compete at the Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland.

McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer have been told that they cannot represent Northern Ireland in Birmingham, following a ruling by the FIG.

The decision was taken because they have represented Ireland in FIG events, however it has been met by consternation and Commonwealth Games NI and Sport NI plan to appeal the ruling.

McClenaghan, who competed for Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, was preparing to defend his Pommel Horse title, having won gold for Northern Ireland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

In a statement on twitter, McClenaghan wrote: "Earlier today I was informed that the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) will not be allowing myself and my team mates to compete at the Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland.

"I was born in Northern Ireland, my residence is in Northern Ireland and I represented and won Gold for Northern Ireland in the last Commonwealth Games.

"I feel that FIG do not understand the gravity of the Belfast Agreement and the unique situation pertaining to Northern Ireland.

"Every other sport understand the eligibility of Northern Irish athletes in accordance with Commonwealth Games.

"I would like to ask the FIG to reconsider their decision and allow us to compete at the Commonwealth Games."

In a statement, Commonwealth Games NI echoed McClenaghan sentiments and said: "Our immediate concern is the wellbeing of the three athletes and their coaches.

"Appropriate support is being offered while we collectively agree a course of action to challenge this ruling. It should be noted that both Rhys and Ewan competed for Northern Ireland at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Rhys winning a Gold medal on Pommel.

"All three athletes were born in Northern Ireland, and have parents born in Northern Ireland, but yet they have been told that they are ineligible to compete for Northern Ireland. This is apparently because they compete routinely for Ireland at FIG tournaments. Northern Ireland does not take part in such tournaments.

"Historically, TeamNI at all Commonwealth Games has included athletes across a range of sports who have chosen to represent either IRL or GBR at European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. We even have athletes within the same sport who have chosen different international performance pathways.

"This has always been respected and adds to the inclusive nature of TeamNI at Commonwealth Games.

"FIG appear to have completely disregarded the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the unique situation pertaining to Northern Ireland. They are out of step with all of our other member sports.

"We hope to see the FIG reconsider their position to make this so."