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 130.

    Guys, this is a link to the bbc news story of my friend Ali, her and her brother were planning to run the NY marathon tomorrow, but will instead be running to riverside park and helping with the clean up! Any donations would be appreciated!

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    The timing of the decision is poor, so I feel for the people who have incurred the expense of getting to NY. However, it is the right decision. As one contributor to the film stated, it means that resources allocated to the marathon can be put into the recovery effort.
    My heart goes out to all those affected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    I know some misguided people are criticizing the U.S coverage and mentioning Haiti...alot, but who exactly do you think has been paying for the reconstruction there? I think you'll find it's the big bad U.S that's picking up most of the tab.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    @122 American Sport Fan
    To be quite honest....I don't think the 'world' cares about what can/can't stop the big apple aka NYC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.


    You need to get out more and meet a few more Americans.

    I'm a Brit living in the USA. I think you're confusing two things - media exported to the masses and the way the average American thinks. Come try it, you might just like it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    How terrible. Maybe have to put off bombing Iran to smithereens until the power is back. How sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    To 2.Listener - " Is there anything we in the UK can do to help those people? They could really use our help those poor people...."
    Dear Listenere, NJ or NY are not exactly poor; and the people living there don't tend do give two hoots about anyone but themselves; but by all means give them all you have, don't let anyone stop you.. I will not be contributing though

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I think its disgraceful that the BBC has wasted so much time on this story when poorer nations suffer storms of this nature more frequently but get no coverage. I don't care if the marathon is cancelled and who would have known how bad the storm would actually be until it had passed through. It really does show how thick some Americans are! Who are they going to sue now Mother Nature get real!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    My only concern, at this point, is that sooner or later the City has to move on. Maybe it is too soon, but the Marathon could have been an opportunity to show the world not even mother nature can stop the Big Apple. But, it seems to me that the New York Sports Media decided to impose thier moral values on the story. Not their job. Boomer and Carton don't speak for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Perhaps ,some americans ought to learnt a few facts, it is only the UK media who seemingly has an interest in this. I doubt very much indeed if it wasn't constantly being shown over and over again , that anybody in the UK would give a monkey's ***** about it anymore!

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    112. Almost a joker.

    Americans don't do perspective just themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Sandy hadn't hit landfall yet that I was reading online about people concerned about the NY marathon and whether they'd be able to 'jog around Central Park' on Sunday morning and 'chill on 5th'. Disgusting! Yeah, I know, it's the most famous marathon and it's such a shame you wont be able to boast about taking part at your miserable dinner parties, but people DIED, show compassion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    @113 Herb "I am British not american...."
    Good point Herb....I'm Canadian and Sandy hit our Eastern provinces...not a mention. Strange too, being as Canada so close/part of the 'British Realm'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Why all the all the coverage of the US Well the two countries are linked economically and historically. The storm had an economic impact that reached far beyond Battery Park and reached as far east as London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Makes sense to call off the marathon, the police etc have a much bigger job on their hands sorting the place out after the hurricane, it wouldn't make sense to divert their resources for a run around the city.

    On a tangent, can we have equal coverage of ALL the countries hit by the devastation? In the UK we could be forgiven for thinking it was only NY & NJ that were affected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Clever to cancel it late, so you have runners turning up who can be converted into free clean-up labour!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    New Yorkers said to hell with the terrorists and carried on after 9/11. But there is no one to stick two fingers up to here, except the forces of nature which are blind deaf and dumb to human concerns, Its a sporting event, not life and death. Give the city time to sort itself out and be better for it next year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I am British not american and as far as I know the UK is not a state of the US? Therefore, why all this round the clock coverage of a foreign country, where is the coverage regarding Haiti etc ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Thousands of people have literally had their lives torn apart and all some can do is whine that they don't get to have their little run around the streets. Seriously these people need to get a grip - and whilst they're at it they need to get some perspective too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    "We are very angry" I bet she'd be a lot more upset if she had the roof of her house on her head.

    I have found that people who indulge such extreme activities as marathon running are often quite unpleasant. Labour under the misapprehension that what they do matters. It doesn't. Not one jot. And I don't care about this woman. Find something better to do.


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