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 150.

    I seriously would like to know where the pressure is coming from that made Bloomberg cave? Was it from other politicians? No. I don't thnk so because I really haven't heard any criticism from them. I didn't hear any outrage or praise from the mainstream media either as it was matter of factly reported last night. Now the Sports Media? That's a differant story all together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Woo....big headline news for the BBC, a marathon in the US has been cancelled. Oh god, what will we do?! Come on BBC, get a grip, stop making the most inane story from the US headline news, particularly with all that is going on in the world. There are more important things to make headline news then a marathon being cancelled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I lived in NYC for 10 years and have many friends affected by Sandy. Initially I thought the marathon should go ahead as it would help bring some cheer to the city.

    Then I realized people are starving, freezing and have nowhere to go to the toilet. The marathon has enough water, food, blankets, generators and porta potties for 50,000 people....

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    good to see bloomberg pressured into a u-turn. Now it would be good if he would do a u-turn over gay marriage support also

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    RE 145

    Good point but I think most of the blame is too be place on the Republicans rather than the Democrats since it is they who are using "debt" as a rallying cry when in reality is was their economic "genuis" that led to the current economic crisis. They don't care about the budget, They just care about tax breaks for the rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    They build at sea level knowing full well that it's going to be quite a bit below sea level in the not too distant future even on a good day, it gets swamped by the sea & yet they rebuild in the same place while whining about a race being cancelled...Mmmm...It's life Jim but not as we know it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Actually they thought the price of a storm barrier in NY harbour was too expensive. The cleanup will cost much more. So much for shovel ready projects, what the US needs is long term planning but the politicians of both parties at too short sighted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Yes, of course, because there are people who actually have to be led by the nose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Re 140

    I underwstand your point, but on the same token Why did the Knicks play last night? Why are the Nets being allowed to play tonight? Why are the Giants being allowed to play the Steelers tomorrow? Shouldn't those events be cancelled as well or moved to another location so as not to divirt resources?

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    A small story about disenchanted runners....what the hell will we do when something big happens???

    I guess people will think twice about choices. Imagine paying $97 million for a penthouse in Manhattan which is built on landfill at sea level.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    The reason it has to be cancelled is because police and other emergency workers can't be diverted to work on the marathon. The electricity generators and fuel needed for the VIP tent can be better used at the hospitals that have lost backup power. The emergency situation has not ended yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    The mayor should have been more decisive and cancelled the event straight after Sandy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Re 136

    I fet you point about scientiests warning about these storms. I get your point on Climate Change. But the problem is that we have a political party in this county, which controls Congress, which denies Climate Change exists and will not take action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    On a side note, i think that it's time that NYC and New Jersey review their building codes so that the next time a big storm hits, it won't be as damaging. I remember Hurricane Andrew, and most of the damage was due to a lack of code enforcement as houses on one side of the street went undamaged while houses on the other side of the street were leveled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    The really sad part about all this is that probably before the city & it's population have fully recovered exactly the same thing or worse will naturally happen & put everything back to right here! These events have been predicted many times now by various scientists for years & still everyone is surprised & does nothing to avert the losses in future events of the same nature. Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    To me it just confirms my view that politicians of all countries seem to be out of touch with the people they purport to serve

    A fine example would be Mr Hague in this country

    A most difficult decision for him to make

    In one hand feed a family of three for a year in the other hand pay £10,000 to stuff a dead snake.

    Feed family, Stuff dead snake

    No Prizes for guessing which one he chose

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    70% of Haiti's crops have been destroyed by the same Hurricane and the entire country, which has never fully recovered from the earthquake a couple of years ago, has been declared a "state of emergency"... yet we seem to ignore this and instead focus on a marathon being cancelled.

    Its the BBCs report on marathon cancellation when many more IMPORTANT issues, blame them, not "we"

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    57 Minutes ago
    It surprises me how much damage the Americans allowed Sandy to make, and how long it's taking to recover.

    What do you expect?
    President Obama to do a King Canute on the New Jersey seafront?

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    re 123

    There are many neighborhoods in the Tristate Area that are poor Not everyone in Manhatten is rich. Not everyon in Jersey is affluent. Just take a trip to Newark and I think it will change your mind.

    Re 127.
    The world may not care but I care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    The original decision to still run the marathon was stupid, and flawed. Priority should, and correctly is, being given to getting New York back to normnal as soon as practicable.


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