Storm Sandy: New York marathon cancelled after protests


BBC's Steve Kingstone: "A street re-made by a vicious act of nature'

This year's New York City marathon has been cancelled in the aftermath of the super storm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced.

In a statement, he said: "We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it."

Plans to press ahead with Sunday's event had prompted widespread anger in cyclone-ravaged parts of the city.

Ninety-six US deaths, 40 of them in New York, have been blamed on Sandy.

The storm had already killed 69 people as it swept across the Caribbean.

Across the US East Coast, some 3.5 million homes and businesses - 1.2 million in New York state alone - still have no electricity, four days after the storm made landfall.

Petrol shortages have also caused forecourt confrontations from New Jersey to Connecticut - one motorist was arrested after pulling a gun during an argument at a petrol queue.

In a bid to ease the fuel crunch on Friday, the US waived a law that normally bans foreign oil tankers from entering its north-eastern ports.

The Obama administration also ordered the purchase of up to 12m gallons (45m litres) of petrol and up to 10m gallons of diesel for areas affected by Sandy.

On Friday evening, musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera and Billy Joel performed in an hour-long televised benefit for those affected by the storm.

New York marathon runner: ''We are very angry.... (they should have) cancelled it before we came''

Staten Island's anger

Mayor Bloomberg had previously insisted that the marathon would go ahead and would "give people something to cheer about".

But in his statement, he said that while hosting the event would not, as critics had said, divert resources from the recovery effort, "it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division".

"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," he said.

Food, blankets, portable toilets, generators and other items originally intended for the race are being donated by the organisers to storm-hit areas of the city.

The New York marathon is the largest in the world, with than 47,000 runners - about 20,000 of them from overseas - registered to take part this year.

It had been due to start in Staten Island, the hardest-hit part of the city, where 19 people died as a result of Sandy.

But before the race was cancelled, US Representative Michael Grimm, whose district covers the island, told CNN: "We're still pulling bodies out of the water and the mayor is worried about marathon runners and returning to life as normal."

Other local politicians, Republicans and Democrats, had also demanded the race be stopped.

Anger has also been rising in Staten Island at delays in bringing aid, as residents pick through the debris of their storm-pummelled homes.

Sandy swamped the low-lying borough with record tidal surges, sweeping entire houses off their foundations.

The bodies of two boys, aged two and four, who were torn from their mothers' arms by rushing floodwaters, were recovered in a Staten Island marsh on Thursday.

Time-lapse footage shows Sandy's passage over New York City - Footage courtesy New York Times/ Antoine Roux

Earlier, some runners who had signed up for the race told local website Gothamist they would instead volunteer on Staten Island. As the cancellation was announced, other runners said they would do the same.

However, some runners criticised the mayor's decision as having coming too late, after they had already arrived in the city.

"We spent thousands of dollars to bring our family here, paid for hotel rooms, airline tickets," said Terri Butler from Houston, Texas. "Cancel it before we come."

Meanwhile, New York utility company Consolidated Edison has announced it has begun restoring electricity to parts of lower Manhattan - including tens of thousands in the East Village and Lower East Side.

The firm says many in Manhattan will see electricity return by Saturday, and most of the city will be connected again by 11 November. But some customers could be without power for weeks.

New Jersey remains the hardest hit by outages, affecting 1.5m people.

In the city of Hoboken, on the banks of the Hudson river, the National Guard has been evacuating those stranded by floodwaters.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Last I heard there were 90 dead, 20000 trapped in their homes, 4.6 million without power and 20% of the US population affected by this superstorm.

    And these people are moaning about a cancelled marathon!!!

    I haven't got the words to describe what I think of them. (Well nothing that will get past the moderators anyway).

    I think the election should be delayed never mind a sports day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    People posting here seem to miss the point.

    Most of the complaints are about the late timing of the cancellation. I don't have strong views on whether the run should have been cancelled, but leaving the decision so late is to unnecessarily burden people with wasted expense.

    Yes I know that people in NY have had other things to worry about, but that is as true today as it was a few days ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    38. MD59
    As for the runners, what were they thinking? Who in their right mind would fly thousands of miles to a hurricane zone to take part in a sporting event? Not very bright, to say the least

    When you've booked up months in advance to run a race in one of the wealthiest cities in the world; when nobody tells you not to come & states that the race will go ahead, what did you expect them to do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Just New Yorkers! Blame, blame, blame!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Is a marathon really more imprtant than peoples lives and have those complaining about it's cancellation paid any attention to what happened and the aftermath.

    If the marathon had been allowed to go ahead there would have been global condemnation in allowing something which is irrelevant in the face of such destruction and loss of life. Some folk need to take a long hard look at themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Those saying about runners 'whining' clearly haven't trained for a marathon, it isn't a 'fun run'. No-one's disputing it should have been cancelled, that's not why they're complaining, they're complaining because it has been obvious since at least Tuesday that it should have been cancelled, if it had have been cancelled then people wouldn't flown over and NYC could have focussed on the cleanup.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I'm still trying to figure out why the hell we so called clever humans still insist on building & living in places of obvious natural hazard, at the waters edge & even below it, on volcanoes, massive earthquake faults etc. etc. With all we now know I think it'd be smarter to simply relocate because this sort of thing can't be stopped & we know it will get worse! So can anyone really cry about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Shouldn't need to do the beebs job for them, but article below below details of the devastation caused to countries other than America, by sandy
    I wonder how they are coping?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    they had all that water , food , toilets , generators etc put to one side and only now are they letting victims use it ?........ disgusting.
    and after people critisised starbucks for charging firemen for water in 911.

    at least they can get it now , thats good , late but good

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    This is not a situation for smart Alec comments.

    This is a devastating weather event, which has taken lives & turned others upside down.

    I am sure Mayor Bloomberg had the best intentions when he initially said it would go ahead.

    Personally I wouldn’t have gone there after seeing the tv, but those that did made the same mistake as Mr Bloomberg, so who are they to criticise?

    I wish NY well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Whining about this, they show complete lack of empathy. Give each runner a broom and shovel and let them do something worthwhile

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The bodies of two boys, aged two and four, who were torn from their mothers' arms by rushing floodwaters, were recovered in a Staten Island marsh on Thursday.
    But, like, hey, let's still have the fun run?
    Disgusting that some interviewed are more concerned with the loss of booked hotel costs etc.
    Get a brain / life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The marathon probably should have been cancelled days before Sanday hit. Everyone knew it was coming, and cancellation might have concentrated any doubters' minds as to the seriousness of what was going to happen. As for the runners, what were they thinking? Who in their right mind would fly thousands of miles to a hurricane zone to take part in a sporting event? Not very bright, to say the least.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    For goodness sake it's just a glorified run. Yes, it does raise money for charity, but to be honest, as a Brit, I'm embarrassed by UK runners whining. Run somewhere else and show some respect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    #2 Is there anything we in the UK can do to help those people

    Dont worry, this wasnt New Orleans. This affected rich people so the US of A will get it sorted out soon enough

    Ignorance is bliss, London/New York may be rich but both also have a high concentration of poor, who do you think provides all the cheap labour services to the wealthy & cleans the garbage/streets

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    They should have an improvised raft race instead. Make good of a bad situation, have fun together. At least they're alive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Think the righteous indignation mob are beong a bit harsh on those runners expressing their frustration. Facts are that the 20,000 from overseas have been treated with complete indifference by the mayor. He is the real villian of the piece. As a typical vain politician he allowed his judgement to be clouded by the sound bite he might get from race going on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    There are few places in the US that don't have an awareness of the effects of severe emergencies, whether it's hurricanes, tornadoes, tsumani or earthquakes. I can't say I have a lot of sympathy for people that have voluntarily taken themselves into an urban disaster zone to run a race.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Clearly some people dont know what Empathy is,sad but true.What a caring thoughtful world we live in,not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Why doesn't NY hold a two minutes silence at the time when the maraton was due to start - it might bring some of these selfish people to their senses.

    Maybe they would have preferred to tell their freinds and relatives about what an horrific experience it had been for them having to go through areas of devastation. Some people really make my blood boil!!


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