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New York City’s 43rd annual marathon will not be held this Sunday after controversy broke out about the race being held less than a week after the devastating Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s original decision to continue with the 26.2 mile race has sparked a heated debate.
Social networks channeled the opposition to the race.On change.org 15,000 people has signed an online petition requesting that the marathon be postponed. A Facebook page called “Cancel the 2012 NYC Marathon” has received 35,000 likes.
Some citizens believed the marathon would take away from efforts for recovery from the storm.
A Staten Island resident John Esposito told ABC reporters, “They brought giant generators to power the marathon tents while we’ve got thousands of people without power….How about putting one of these generators here? Have some compassion.”
Bloomberg defended his decision not to cancel or postpone the marathon and compared the 2012 race to the marathon in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. On Friday evening, Bloomberg changed his mind and announced his decision to postpone the race.
Bloomberg said, “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. 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.”
Another Staten Island resident Joan Wacks criticized the mayor for wanting to hold to hold the race saying to ABC, “He is clueless without a paddle to the reality of what everyone else is dealing with. If there are any resources being put toward the marathon, that’s wrong. I’m sorry, that’s wrong.”
The money raised at the marathon would have been put towards recovery. Last year’s race generated $340 million for New York City with 47,500 participants. Although the New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg expected a lower turnout this year, the NYRR were donating $1 million dollars to the city and have received $1.5 million in pledges from sponsors. The organization was also planning to hire private contractors instead of city services for the race.
Wittenberg said to ESPN reporters, “We’re talking about something much more than a foot race. What’s really clear is not only does the marathon celebrate the essence of the city, but it’s good for the city.”
Although the city suffered from extensive damage and 41deaths, the course of the race had little damage.
Bloomberg added in his statement, “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.”