Madonna in Prince tribute at Billboard Music Awards

An online petition claims Prince was "more worthy" than Madonna Credit: Reuters

Madonna will pay tribute to Prince at the Billboard Music Awards, despite an online petition demanding more artists be involved.

Purple Rain star Prince, who died suddenly last month aged 57, will be honoured at the ceremony in Las Vegas, which marks one of the biggest nights on the US music calendar.

Organisers have defended their decision to choose Madonna to pay tribute to Prince after an online petition called for more musicians to be included.

The petition, which has been signed by more than 8,000 people on, claimed Prince was "more than worthy of a better choice as a main performer".

But Mark Bracco, executive producer of the awards show, said Madonna's tribute would be "very intimate and very respectful".

Adele enters the awards with eight nominations Credit: PA

Adele leads the British charge at the awards with eight nominations, while David Bowie is up for a posthumous award for his album Blackstar.

Titanic singer Celine Dion will be presented with the Icon Award, Billboard's lifetime achievement honour, after a traumatic start to 2016 for the singer.

Her husband Rene Angelil and brother Daniel both died from cancer just days apart in January.

Meanwhile, Britney Spears is to receive the Billboard Millennium Award for her "career achievements and influence on the music industry".

The Baby One More Time singer, who will perform a medley of her biggest hits, is only the third person to receive the accolade after Beyonce in 2011 and Whitney Houston in 2012.

Bowie, who died in January aged 69, will compete against Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes and Twenty One Pilots for the top rock album prize.

Celine Dion, whose husband (left) died from cancer this year, will receive the Icon Award Credit: Reuters

The star-studded line-up of artists performing at the ceremony also includes Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Pink, Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainer, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.

The Billboard Music Awards are based on album and digital songs sales over the last year, radio airplay, streaming, touring and interactions on social media.