- Bloomberg caved to pressure after insisting city was prepared to host marathon and offer support to victims, comparing moment to city's resilience after 9/11
- New York residents were angry that emergency services would be diverted towards Sunday's marathon and away from relief efforts
- Mayor said it was clear holding the marathon had become 'the source of controversy and division' in the city
By Beth Stebner
PUBLISHED: 16:30 EST, 2 November 2012 | UPDATED: 21:23 EST, 2 November 2012
The New York City Marathon has been canceled after protestors questioned the race's timeliness following Sandy's destruction.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement this evening that the annual 26.2-mile race will not be held this Sunday, despite workers spending the days after Sandy preparing the course.
Mayor Bloomberg had previously defended his stance to have the race go ahead, despite the fact that millions across the five boroughs remain without clean water, food, and electricity.
In Central Park today...
Preparations: Workers were seen near the finish line of the New York City Marathon, today before city officials decided to cancel the event
Ready for action: New York Marathon organisers were preparing for the race today before Mayor Bloomberg announced it would be canceled
In Staten Island today...
The other side: Dulce Espino (left) and Viridiana Cruz weep in their Staten Island neighborhood where many houses were completely destroyed
Salvaging memories: Members of the Traina family sort through photographs and other personal items that they were salvaging from their home which was completely destroyed by flood water storm surge from Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island
'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,' Mayor Bloomberg said in the statement.
'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.'
He added: '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 race is likely to be held at a later date although no details were given as to when this would take place.
It is also unclear whether any of the nearly 50,000 runners who were expected to compete in Sunday’s marathon, thousands of whom traveled to New York from other countries, would be compensated in any way.
The move to cancel the event is historic as it has been held every year since 1970, including in 2001 when the marathon took place just two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Lost everything: A woman is helped along by family members in in Breezy Point, Queens, which was ravaged by fire during the storm
Devastated: Sandy's Aftermath was still being felt on Friday at Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, pictured
But the cancellation was almost inevitable after opposition, from runners as well as politicians and residents of the worst affected areas, intensified as days wore on post-storm.
At a news conference on Friday, Mayor Bloomberg defended his initial decision to go ahead with the marathon as a way to raise money for the city and boost morale less than a week after Sandy knocked out power and left a death toll of nearly 100 people.
He noted that his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, went ahead with the New York Marathon two months after 9/11.
‘If you go back to 9/11, Rudy made
the right decision in those days to run the marathon and pull people
together,' Bloomberg said.
The mayor added that the marathon's organizers are ‘running this race to help New York City, and the donations from all the runners in the club will be a great help for our relief efforts.’
Earlier this week, the mayor said the race wouldn't siphon off resources from the storm recovery, noting electricity is expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up ‘an enormous number of police.’
Everything lost: Two women embrace outside a home destroyed by storm surge flooding on the south side of hard-hit Staten Island in New York City following Hurricane Sandy
Marathon material? Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured a storm damaged area of Tottenville in Staten Island before claiming the marathon had become a 'source of controversy and division'
Race is on: The Mayor insisted the Marathon would not interfere with the recovery of the city but decided to cancel it after pressure
Carnage: Mounds of debris pile up in the street in the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood
Destructive tides: A large section of the iconic Queens boardwalk was washed away
A front loader moves debris in Rockaway neighborhood: Most major bridges have reopened but will require three occupants in the vehicle to pass
Friday evening, 65,000 residents of lower Manhattan were rejoicing as
Con Edison restored power to their neighbourhoods after suffering for
days in the dark.
But the views on whether the marathon should go ahead were still extremely polarized.
Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino sensationally tweeted this afternoon that he heard the marathon could be cancelled.’
personally i hope those traders are wrong abt the marathon and wrong abt obama beating romney. she shall see...
‘Wall street execs say NYC marathon CANCELLED,’ he wrote Friday afternoon, later tweeting: ‘Personally I hope those traders are wrong about the marathon and wrong about Obama beating Romney. She (sic) shall see.’
Following the two explosive tweets, many people responded negatively to him. ‘Just that you put that sort of cr** rumor in a tweet is a reason not to follow you,’ wrote one.’
Gasparino fired back: ‘I cant help it if ur (sic) too dumb not to ready EXACTLY what I said.’
A spokesperson for ING told MailOnline on Friday afternoon that she was unaware there were rumors that the marathon could be canceled.
Broken childhood: A child's doll sits amid debris left by Hurricane Sandy on the south side of hard-hit Staten Island
Gathering belongings: Christopher Traina tries to salvage some personal items from the basement of his parent's home which was destroyed in Staten Island
Picking up the pieces: Kate Traina looks at a strip of photographic negatives as she joined other family members as they were salvaging items
The New York Road Runners, which partners with ING for each race, could not immediately be reached.
Business owner Paul Wilson agreed with Bloomberg’s desire to continue with the marathon. Wilson, who owns Bar East on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said the weekend after the superstorm was ‘the perfect time to have it.’
He said: ‘I don’t think the timing could have been better.’
Runners along the 26.2-mile course pass right next to Wilson’s bar.
The course runs from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on hard-hit Staten Island to Central Park, sending runners through all five boroughs.
The course of the marathon wasn't going to be changed if it went ahead on Sunday, as there was little damage along the route.
Mayor Bloomberg was expected to cave to pressure after opposition from New Yorkers to holding the much loved event while the death toll from Superstorm Sandy was still rising continued to swell.
Even before Bloomberg's announcement this evening, as organisers put finishing touches to the finish line, Staten Island residents were crying as they saw their devastated neighborhood.
Residents - some of whom have had to wade through local dumpsters to find food and supplies - were demanding to know why generators used for the race were not being used to help those in desperate need.
Washed ashore: A boat is washed up and left on South Beach in Staten Island after the Superstorm
Broken homes: Houses destroyed in South Beach, Staten Island, from the storm
Streets flooded: The roads of South Beach in Staten Island were left in ruins
The aftermath: A limousine is washed away and seen on top of another vehicle in South Beach, Staten Island, after Sandy hit
A third generator would not even have been used unless there was an emergency -
causing even more friction between organisers and residents over what Mayor Bloomberg considered an emergency.
For days officials in the storm-ravaged tri-state area insisted that plans to go ahead with the New York Marathon would not affect recovery efforts, but they were in the minority.
Congressman Michael Grimm, whose district includes the devastated borough of Staten Island, was one of several prominent politicians who today voiced his fury that the annual race was going ahead, even while many on the island are without water, food, and electricity.
‘There’s no question I’m angry about it,’ the representative said.
‘The city of New York is talking about getting water out of the Battery Tunnel and getting ready for the marathon. We’re pulling bodies out of the water.’
Speaking with the TODAY show, Rep Grimm, who represents the 13th District of New York, said that residents of the borough are barely coping in the wake of Sandy, and the last thing on their minds is a race.
‘There are those walking the street and they seem almost hopeless,’ he said. ‘They’ve lost everything and there’s nowhere for them to go.'
Powered up: The generators to power the media tent for the New York Marathon could light up 400 New York's homes
More than 100 homes were destroyed in Breezy Point, Queens: Flatbed trucks originally helping in rescue operations were sent to help prepare for the marathon, which is now canceled
Hauled away: Garbage men disposed dozens of shopping carts full of ruined goods on Wednesday at the Fairway supermarket in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York
Nevertheless, the Mayor's office said: ‘Our recover efforts are ongoing and none of those will be impacted by the marathon. No resources will be diverted.’
'There are people right now that have no heat who have no food and are sitting in the dark.
'To say that we have enough resources just isn’t accurate. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. We feel that no one understands us.'
Staten Island Councilman James Oddo echoed Rep Grimm’s anger.
He said: 'The notion of diverting even one police officer, one first responder, one asset away from this carnage, is beyond irrational,’ he told the Daily News.
Earlier, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he saw none of the damage or power outtages as
insurmountable, and defended the decision to hold the race, insisting
resources wouldn't be diverted from storm victims.
He noted at a news conference on Thursday that electricity was expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up ‘up an enormous number of police.’
‘This city is a city where we have to go on,’ he said.
But many New Yorkers didn't feel that accurately reflected the current situation.
A petition on Change.org asked Bloomberg and other officials to postpone the ING Marathon until the spring of next year.
‘Police, fire, and other emergency services should not be diverted to the Marathon during this time of crisis,’ the petition reads. ‘This event is always a positive event and it should not be turned into a hugely negative drain on city resources.’
Some critics were also questioning whether the marathon should go ahead at all.
As the city is under emergency executive orders, the governor, mayor or even the President could order that the generators be used for more humanitarian reasons, the New York Post reports.
With parts of the city expected to be without power for a week, the Post also reports that other valuable resources have been sent to help prepare for Sunday's marathon, including more than a dozen police flatbed trucks, which were previous working at disaster points.
Still a long way to go: A woman walks along a sidewalk as debris from floodwater-damaged buildings is piled in the streets in Hoboken, New Jersey
Postman Mike Conroy delivers the mail to a pharmacy damaged by floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey
Charging: While the marathon was still going ahead, residents were trying to figure out how to get their phones charged
SHOULD WE COME OR NOT? RUNNERS FLY INTO A DEVASTATED CITY
Dave Reeder was supposed to fly from Denver to LaGuardia on Thursday with his wife and two children. Then they saw the photos of the flooded airport. Should they still try to make the trip?
The race felt a bit ‘frivolous,’ he said.
Hearing Bloomberg on TV convinced him to try and he hoped to volunteer in relief efforts while in New York.
His family planned to watch from three points along the course, but subway closures may prevent it.
If they can't, it has practical implications for Reeder: He has type 1 diabetes, and his wife carries supplies he might need during the race.
Reeder, who was running as part of Team JDRF to raise money for diabetes research, said from the Denver airport on Thursday night that his flight was a go.
Julie Culley of Clinton, New Jersey, was stranded in Arlington, Virginia, when the storm hit. It turned out to be a blessing because she had power and could train.
An Olympian in the 5,000 meters, Culley was making her marathon debut. Her parents own a vacation home on Long Beach Island on the Jersey shore, which was rocked hard by Sandy.
‘I think our family probably escaped the worst of it,’ said Culley, whose parents were in Clinton when the storm hit.
‘I've seen terrible pictures of houses uprooted out of their foundations and houses completely knocked out.’
Her parents told her if Long Beach Island is open on Sunday, they would go there and watch her on TV.
‘Now that we know for the most part what the damage is and the storm's over,’ Culley said, ‘and we can put everything behind us and focus on the recovery effort in the state, I think now it's time to shift focus toward the marathon again.’
Search continues: Julie Traina tries to recover some personal items from the destroyed home of her parents in Staten Island
Home destroyed: James Traina climbs over the remains of his parent's house which was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in Staten Island
Councilwoman Margaret Chin of Chinatown told The Post how she requested an emergency generator to pump water to stranded elderly residents.
But she says she was told by the Office of Emergency Management that 'there are other priorities'.
Asked about the criticism from politicians, New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said a city going through a crisis must find the right time to move forward. She believes Sunday can be that day.
‘It's hard in these moments to know what's best to do,’ she told the Associated Press. ‘The city believes this is best to do right now.’
The marathon brings an estimated $340million into the city. Organizers will also use it as a backdrop to raise money for recovery efforts. Race organizer NYRR will donate $1million to the fund and said more than $1.5million in pledges already had been secured from sponsors.
The Post reports that the Hilton Garden Inn will not honour reservations from marathon runners if it means removing refugees of Sandy.
general manager Frank Sanchez said: 'While we understand they have
reservations, we know they are going back to their regular lives in two
days. Our neighbors will not have that opportunity.'
The organisers have allegedly paid $37,500 simply for the licence to run the generators.
Road Runners spokesman Richard Finn told the Post: 'These are our private generators. We are not draining any resources from the city’s plan to recover.'
Poor sanitation: A man rinses his hands in flood water while cleaning out a house in a hard-hit neighbor hood in Staten Island
Carnage: The devastation left by Super Storm Sandy at Breezy Point, Queens, New York
In an editorial, the New York Daily News said: 'Running the NYC Marathon on Sunday through the five boroughs is not what this city needs.
'Who needs electricity, when we can watch tens of thousands of runners testing their physical limits on our streets?
'That’s how it will be sold to America. And of course, this is nonsense. It is almost always nonsense when we turn sports events into something more important than what they are.
'The Marathon is being run, mainly, because it would be a pain in the neck to reschedule, and because it would cost organizers and local businesses a ton of money.
'Not because this race is of any importance to the people who are huddled in shelters right now, still waiting for some hot water, or sitting homeless after their buildings have burned to the ground.
'And definitely not because it is the right thing to do.'
Video: Mayor Bloomberg announces the marathon will still take place - watch the mayor speak and see reactions from New Yorkers
NBC: 'New York should postpone the marathon'
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