Bowing to the impact of superstorm Sandy, New York City officials are cancelling the world's largest marathon, which had been scheduled to take place this Sunday.
The office of mayor Mike Bloomberg said in a statement:
We have decided to cancel the NYC marathon. The NYRR will have additional information in days ahead for participants.
Since Sandy's arrival Monday, there had been heated calls, including online petitions, to cancel the race. The city is still struggling to recover from the storm, and many residents—especially on Staten Island, where the race begins—still lack power and basic necessities. A group of marathon runners on Facebook announced earlier this week that they would break off from the race to help storm victims throughout the city.
Only hours earlier, Bloomberg had stood behind the decision to go ahead with the race, declaring at a press conference.
If you think back to 9/11, I think Rudy Giuliani made the right decision to run the marathon. It pulled people together and we have to find some ways to express ourselves and show solidarity to each other.
The mayor also argued that Sunday's marathon is an economic incentive that will raise money for the stricken city and boost morale for New Yorkers. The marathon brings an estimated $340 million into the city, and the New York Road Runners, the organization that operates the marathon, has pledged some of that amount for relief efforts.
Here's a fuller statement from the mayor's office about the race's cancellation:
The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City's life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event - even one as meaningful as this - to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track. The New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead for participants.