NEW YORK — The New York City Marathon was cancelled on Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race while the region is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
With people in storm-ravaged areas shivering without electricity and the death toll in the city at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon, storm victims being evicted from hotels to make way for runners, and big generators humming along at the finish-line tents in Central Park.
Around 47,500 runners from around the globe had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometre) event Sunday, with more than 1 million spectators usually lining the route for the world’s largest marathon.
The race had been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the storm’s hardest-hit places.
Bloomberg had pressed ahead with plans run the marathon on schedule, but opposition intensified quickly Friday afternoon from the city controller, Manhattan borough president and sanitation workers.
Finally, the mayor backed down about three hours later.
“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “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 cancellation means there won’t be another NYC Marathon until next year.