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 90.

    83. ana

    I understand suffering in NJ area, but the runners should not be the victims. Since, Mr. Bloomberg promised marathon will go on. I have to change my reservation to a different area as NJ hotel is flooded. I rescheduled my tickets. Now its cancelled last minute!


    You think the runners are the victims? Get a life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I am a runner and I teach at the College of Staten Island. I don't know how they ever thought this event could go ahead. For starters it would have meant kicking thousands of homeless peoples out of hotels into the cold so that runners could use the rooms. Fortunately, the hotel owners took the lead yesterday and said they wouldn't do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    ana@83 ... are you really serious? You selfish woman. People have died, thousands are without a place to live and amenities and you have the nerve to prattle on about lack of hotel and runners shouldn't be victims. Those people in NY have been saved from another disaster reaching their shores ... YOU!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @82. Paul

    No, I simply pointed out that it was perhaps inappropriate to call people living in a city where 100 people have just been killed by a storm exaggerating whiners. And in any case, all of the deaths from the storm are tragic. In this particular case, New York was harder hit than the Carribbean.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Having just watched the news I am utterly astounded.

    The reporter interviewed a female who was bleeting about the race being cancelled.

    Anyone in their right mind would have never travelled to NY after watching the broadcasts.

    Truly unbelievably stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    What is the blonde lady in the video worried about?

    She can still go for a run. She can go sightseeing. She can even return home to find everything as she left it.

    But over 90 dead, millions without electricity, $50bn of damage in the USA alone, & she is moaning about not being able to go in a fun run, when she could have used her own eyes and chosen to cancel her own attendance? She's weird.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Nice to see that the Yanks have got a sense of proportion. Thousands dead and homeless and they're arguing about a running race.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I understand how people are suffering in NJ area, but the runners should not be the victims. My NJ hotel reservation for Marathon is cancelled because of the hurricane. Since, Mr. Bloomberg promised marathon will go on. I have to change my reservation to a different area as NJ hotel is flooded. I rescheduled my tickets because there is no place for my family to stay. Now its cancelled last minute!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    @73.James H Oh, so nearly 100 people dead in the New York area is nothing. Doesn't matter, they're just Americans, apparently...

    As many people died in the Caribbean...but hardly a word about it. The way you speak it's as if an American life is worth more than anyone elses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Had the storm not caused such devastation Bloomberg would have come under fire for a premature cancellation.

    Well, it did cause devastation, took many lives and has left communities severely disrupted and in need of even the basics.

    Cancelling this annual sporting event was the only sensible option; a decision that one would hope most would accept.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.


    To Listener: the US is the still the wealthiest nation on earth. "

    Err, I think you might find they're technically the poorest nation on earth by quite some margin if you take debt into account!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I can't imagine why anyone, with more than half a brain cell, thought it would go ahead.

    Those that turned up, expecting to run, should lose their money, for being stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Rome is burning yet some people still want to fiddle. Go figure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    It should never have been an option .... city torn up = no marathon! It would be been totally disrespectful to every person affected by the storm in any way. Mr Mayor should feel ashamed that people had to protest to make him see sense!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Presumably all those who trained for the New York Marathon - and have booked accommodation in New York - will stay there for the duration of their specific trip to spend money thus enhancing the local economy?

    Or will they just check out just because their only purpose was the kudos of running in New York? People are running everywhere - in more ways than one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Let's get this straight. Almost 100 people killed in the US, 70 in the Carib, thousands homeless, and an estimated $20bn worth of damage in the US alone...

    And this woman is "angry" that this jog-a-thon was cancelled?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74. angry because they weren't told sooner that the run was cancelled! Well now that your there use that EXTRA pent up energy to HELP those that need it and STOP with the BEACHING! Nobody cares about your wanting to run around the streets. Do it at home where there is no DEATH and DESTRUCTION!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    '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.'

    Oh, so nearly 100 people dead in the New York area is nothing. Doesn't matter, they're just Americans, apparently...

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    60. Nevilles_advocate

    people missing the point here,.. it's about that this decision should've been made a week ago


    You're missing the point!

    You can sit their in your armchair fantasising about what decision you would have made in your private game of 'Who wants to be NY Mayor', but people have died and lost homes.

    Those that still came after seeing that on tv are missing the point too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    This is just so sad, my heart goes out to those poor people. Could not logistics be put aside? Could not Obama or his wife have rolled up their sleeves and showed willing to help? It would have been more of a vote winner if he did. 'Im alright Jack' seems to be the motto of the day.


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