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 170.

    Perhaps we should consider the bias of the press. Do they really represent our outlook? I don't think so. Less and less are really reading this stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    To: Flynn 423 (168): Why does the USA require assistance from other countries ? It is, apart from Norway (population 5 million), the richest country in the world pre capita GDP. I am afraid I just dont get your argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    An offer of assistance would be more appreciated than actual assistance. Sadly, people int the U.S will now remember the small minded, petty comments over the genuinely compassionate. But what the heck, you told off the yanks and put them in their place right? How foolish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Well I think you'll find that most would naturally think that if the US can afford starting & being deeply involved in several major wars in recent times that are still ongoing, then they're really not in desperate need of assistance from anyone! Oh & the yanks didn't come & rescue us brits from Hitler out of compassion it was because they saw he & his allies coming that way next!

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Cyclone hits New York, tens of minutes of coverage. Cyclone hits India, barely mentioned on the news.

    Why have we got to receive so much information about America and so little about other countries?

    Oh, they speak English. So that's enough reason, is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    To Joseph -F (163): I f you want to go down that route, remind me. When did the USA declare war on Germany ? To "save us" as you suggest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    I am sitting in a coffee shop in New York and was due to be running the marathon tomorrow. I totally agree with the decision to cancel the race, I only wish they did it sooner. There will be other marathons and at the end of the day this is done for my leisure and pleasure (and pain). My heart goes out to those who have lost lives and property. Let hope this amazing city recovers soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    @14 SurreyBob

    I'll be sure to remember your comment the next time the UK is in trouble. You won't see me volunteering to save you jealous brits from whichever Hitler comes along next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    To put this in perspective for all UK HYS's
    We get a few mm of snow and the country grinds to a halt/shuts down

    The devistation from Sandy is immense, progress is being made,
    and yes it will be slow recovery.

    If it was the UK it would be a case of "Closed Until Further Notice"

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be many misconceptions about the U.S and its people. Some of the comments here are baffling.
    Nice to see Bloomberg make a hard decision. A show of strength in the face of adversity is admirable, but just not yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    This could have been used as a fundraiser to raise cash for the relief effort, as both the Red Cross and Salvation Army have said that cash donations are prefferable. Instead, we have a controversy created by Sports Talk Radio, which has decided to impose its moral ideology on the rest of the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I hope that those that sponsored the amateur runners with charitable pledges will honour the pledge regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    "we are still pulling bodies out of the water" erm whose bodies? lets see the people who refused to obey the evacuation orders. Yet again the people who refuse to take precautions, follow the advice and obey the oders are the ones moaning about the effects of the storm

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.


    I don't blame the runners as I think most of them were planning on helping the recovery effort. I'm sure most of the winners would have donated the prize money as well.

    I blame blame SNY and WFAN and their "righteous indignation."

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    very insensitive and out of touch of the mayor bloomberg to think a fun run is appropriate at time of such tragedy in his state

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Elizabeth? Trenton? There are poor as well as rich in NJ & NY. Mostly there are working class people who have scrimped their whole lives to save up a bit only to see it washed entirely away. More images have been shown of expensive houses, though.
    124. i am no subject

    ...NJ or NY are not exactly poor; and the people living there don't tend do give two hoots about anyone but themselves...

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Whilst large section of the city are without power, the subway and trains are not running, airports are damaged and airlines are working through a backlog as well as Manhattan only allowing cars with three or more people to enter the city the idea of shutting down large sections of the city for a marathon, something which is a logistical nightmare at the best of times is not feasible and not fare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    We all saw, how much the American government cared about their own people when New Orleans was struck, and about the mess that it was./has now been left in. Truly shocking ,the richest country in the world and it can't even look after or help out it's own people in times of need!

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    A muppet would have worked out that there was a strong possibility of it being cancelled and taken the appropriate measures. Nobody apart from the participants cares about the stupid race being cancelled. Why is this even news? The marathon is not the story here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I know several people from the US & abroad who were to run. Not one begrudges NY for having canceled the race. Just that it was canceled after they arrived & had spent a lot of money to get there. That was wrong. All of them expected to run then volunteer time to the clean up and help while there. Attacking the runners is plain wrong. Runners will just focus on the cleanup now and bury regrets.


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