After Criticism, Bloomberg Cancels The NYC Marathon
After another day of criticism for his decision to allow the New York City Marathon to go forward, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced late this afternoon that the event would be canceled, although it may be held at a later date:
After days of intensifying pressure from runners, politicians and the general public to cancel the New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, city officials and the event’s organizers decided Friday afternoon that the race would not be held Sunday, according to a person familiar with the decision.
Such a move would be historic — the marathon has been held every year since 1970, including the race in 2001 held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — but seemed inevitable as opposition to the marathon swelled. Critics said that it was in poor taste to hold a foot race through the five boroughs while so many people in the area are still suffering from the storm’s damages, and that city services should focus on storm relief, not the marathon. Proponents of the marathon — notably Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, director of the marathon — said the race would provide a needed morale boost, as well as an economic one.
Among the many details that remain unclear are whether race would be postponed or canceled entirely and how popular the plan would be among the field of nearly 50,000 runners who were expected to compete in Sunday’s marathon, thousands of whom traveled to New York from other countries.
Here’s Bloomberg’s statement:
“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.”
This strikes me as the right decision, Bloomberg’s earlier statement, and the diversion of resources that would have been involved in letting the event go forward on Sunday, were simply nonsensical in the light of what the city is dealing with right now. Comparing this with the fact that the race was held in 2001 was irrelevant because that year the race took place a full two months after the September 11th attacks, by which point the city had at least had a chance to move past the worst aspects of the attacks. Holding the marathon this weekend would have been comparable to holding it on September 16, 2001.