New York has cancelled its annual marathon after an initial decision to let Sunday’s race go ahead caused an outcry among locals.
Although the city’s mayor Michael Bloomberg had thought the event would lift New Yorkers’ spirits in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, his office later issued a statement saying it had become a source of controversy and division.
Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson explained:
“This year there was no unity around the marathon, anything but. It had not become unifying, it had become divisive and we can’t have the marathon if it’s divisive.”
Many residents thought the race which was set to attract more than 40,000 runners, would divert critical emergency services and other resources.
“Well I think its a wise decision,” said one New Yorker. “I think its cruel and insensitive to have it when so many people are suffering. Let them turn the power off for Gracie Mansion and let Mayor Bloomberg endure what everybody else is enduring around the tri-state area.”
But one runner who had travelled from the UK to take part in the race felt differently: “I’m a bit gutted really to tell you the truth but it’s hard to say, not being a local, but I’m disappointed as a runner.”
The clean-up operation after Sandy slammed into coastal regions, nearby states and parts of New York is making slow progress.
There are 1.2 million homes and businesses in New York state alone that remain without power and officials say it could take weeks to restore some connections.