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 70.

    Clearly those planning to take part in the Marathon should have realised it was never going to happen. They should only blame themselves - not anyone else. If you don't agree with this obvious position you should delcare yourself NTB. (Not too bright).

    Runners who are now in NY should spend the rest of the weekend eating dohnuts, pizza, burgers & fries. Help the NY economy - live it large!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    NY is not in a position to host a major sporting event and really Bloomberg should have made that decision earlier but he didnt. I dont think there is much more to say except in response to the person who said they would never cancel the London Marathon if London had a similar storm. Have you been to London when its had half an inch of snow?

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    They have Superbowls, Super Sunday, Super Tuesday and now a SuperStorm. When are they on the other side of the pond going to stop exaggerating everything? If something is a little OK its described as Awesome!! We had a storm in the UK in 1987 which had winds that were far faster- we just got on with it and didn't start cancelling everything and wallow in our misfortune.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    It definitely makes sense to cancel.

    Yet, I don't think it is unreasonable for those that planned to run to be frustrated. I think the vast majority are not annoyed it was cancelled, even that it was cancelled so late - but more it was clearly messaged it was going ahead only 24 hrs before it was cancelled.

    The runners are frustrated - it isn't like they are demanding money.


  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I'm amazed and saddened that so little attention has been paid to how the hurricane has effected the Caribean e.g. Haiti. It was always going to be inappropriate for the marathon to go ahead and receive media coverage when people are dying unnoticed in Haiti.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    At the begining of the week just hours into the full force of that storm it should have been obvious to anyone looking at the live news cover that this marathon would NOT be happening! For anyone, especially the leader of the city government to state otherwise was lunacy! I'll bet he's not without power & still knee deep in water, rubble & dead bodies while unions bicker about who's fixing stuff!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    A few weeks ago a football match (Sunderland v Reading) was cancelled due to weather conditions, was this reported in the U.S National media?

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Who in their right minds would want to run in an area hit by a killer storm? The clear up is only just beginning and I dare say a few more bodies may be uncovered! I am sure competing in this event would have taken many months training and preparation but to want it to carry on while those in the area have lost homes and possibly loved ones is selfish to the extreme!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    It is surely not the time to hold such an event, and the inconvenience of the cancellation for those taking part is nothing like the inconvenience of those affected by the storm.

    A decision was made, that is it, end of

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    London = Keep Calm and Carry on

    New York = Keep Crying and Capitulate

    Seriously, man up. You dont call off an iaaf gold marathon major for a bit of rain and some people not being able to charge up their iphones for a week. Its not haiti. If they were going to call it off, you seriously cant do it 2 days before when everyone is already arriving. This would NEVER happen to the london marathon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    More and more people completely missing the point here, it's not about whether it should have been cancelled or not, that's an obvious decision, it's that this decision should have been made a week ago. Of course people in NYC are having a bad time of it, but why add to their misery by filling the city with people who should have been told not to come long before now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    It's true that people were also affected outside the US, but in this case, it seems that the New York and New Jersey area were worse hit. Yes this storm did affect rich people, but also a lot of poor people too. How about a little compassion, rather than yet another excuse for two minutes hate? Everyone affected by this tragedy is worthy of compassion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Did Sandy only effect the USA? Horrible for the poor US folks caught up in the devastation, and they have my sympathy, but I'd like to know about the other world citizens who can't afford to rebuild, the people that the BBC routinely overlook. This is the BBC not BBCUSA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Nature has no compassion or emotion, it is a mere combination of physical and chemical processes. A tragedy nonetheless, cancelling the marathon to concentrate on the clear-up is right and proper. However, build your houses out of bricks and concrete if you want them to survice a catagory 1 hurricane intact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    51. ronnieboy1
    & these people who fly thousands to run around should stay & really do something useful

    The place is trying to get back on its feet & you tell 20,000 people to stay? What so they use up time and resources that are badly needed by those living there? Get real Bloomberg has just added to the problems in the city instead of showing leadership by stopping them coming in the first place

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I understand the disappointment of those that planned to run.

    However, what on earth has become of the UK media? A shameless obsession with the US. The elections are constantly the TOP news item here. Sandy displaced it once the storm started to head to the US whilst it was still killing people elsewhere - prior to that it was barely reported. It is embarrassing fawning to the US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    It should be pointed out that the marathon runners are not upset about the marathon being cancelled, so much as the fact they didn't cancel it immediately and instead waited until the athletes had already arrived. It's still petty in the grand scheme of things, but I feel some of the criticism of the runners has been based on something of a falsehood.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Once again those with endemic scum mentality on HYS (they know who they are) belittle and insult the victims of a horrendous catastrophy, stating such stupid comments only worthy of lowest form of life that evolution has passed by.
    The obnoxious selfish ignorant nature of some is beyond comment & media reports of a few controversial victims just feeds their evil judgements.

    Show some humanity

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    the only decision possible, and these people who fly thousands to run around, should stay and really do something useful.


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