Workers load a bin with debris in the aftermath of
Hurricane Sandy in New York. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
New York City has cancelled its annual marathon, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg said, as tomorrow's race had become a
lightning rod for residents frustrated by the disastrous
aftermath of megastorm Sandy.
Bloomberg said the race was being cancelled because it had
become a "source of controversy and division."
Critics have ramped up opposition to the mayor's decision
earlier in the week to go forward with the marathon, saying
the race would divert critical police and other resources
from people in need following the storm.
Some people had set up online petitions calling for runners
to boycott the 26.2-mile competition, or to run backward from
the starting line in protest.
The New York City marathon is one of the world's most popular
sporting events and, according to pre-storm estimates, was
expected to draw about 47,000 runners.
Bloomberg said the race would not require diverting resources
from the recovery effort, but that "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."
Bloomberg said the New York Road Runners Club, the organisers
of the race, would have additional information in the days
ahead for race participants.