The New York City Marathon has been canceled.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg bowed to complaints that it was unseemly to divert police resources to the marathon while millions of New Yorkers are still suffering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Since the massive East Coast storm nearly toppled the five boroughs along with the neighboring state of New Jersey, New York has been divided on whether the marathon should be held this coming Sunday or not.
With nearly half of the city still without power or heat, residents were furious about Bloomberg’s plan to use generators, auxiliary police, and the other resources it would require to accommodate the race, its participants and the tens of thousands of spectators.
After initially saying the marathon had to go on despite the widespread suffering in the city, Bloomberg changed his position and said he didn’t want controversy and the city’s growing division on the matter, to taint the marathon and what it usually stands for.
“The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch,” said Bloomberg in a statement. “While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division.”
“The marathon has always brought our city together and inspires us with stories of courage and determination,” he added. "We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it."
"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.”
The number of generators it would take to accommodate the race while many still go without electricity—including a lot of the elderly and children—is arguably what infuriated critics the most.
Also, the New York City Marathon typically starts in the outer borough of Staten Island, which has seen tremendous devastation from Sandy, as 80,000 residents still remain without power.
The fact that the city would hold a huge celebratory event in one of the most ravaged boroughs in New York was simply ludicrous to a lot of people.
And since just about all of the New York City Police Departmentis involved in the recovery efforts, it would be inevitable that some of them would have been removed from those efforts to provide security for the marathon.
New York City hasn't only been the city that never sleeps, it has also been the city that never quits, and usually no matter what the city endures the pace of New York doesn’t seem to let up.
So far neither blackout, spike in crime, nor terrorist attack have been able to completely stop the city, and apparently Bloomberg was eager to preserve that reputation.
In an earlier public statement the Mayor spoke in tough cowboy talk about how the city must trudge forward as it has done in the past.
Of course many residents--and even a lot of the runners in the marathon—believed the tough talk was just a front for the amount of money the city would lose if the race didn’t happen.
In fact, Bloomberg did state that New York needed the dollars from the race to make up for the financial losses caused by the storm, but-the-city-trudging-forward-and the being-resilient-talk seemed to be his main reason for initially moving forward with the race.
It’s been reported that the New York City Marathon brings in close to $350 million each year from advertisers and tourists, and some supporters of the race said that large amount of money could have helped with recovery efforts a great deal. It’s safe to assume that New York residents will continue to be divided on this issue, even though the decision has been made.
As far as how this will affect the Mayor’s political legacy, the cancelation of the race is likely to win him a few points for listening and responding to residents. Others will say he only had dollar signs and the city’s reputation in his eyes, and he shouldn’t have tried to move forward with the race in the first place.