Mayor Michael Bloomberg bowed to public pressure today and canceled Sunday's running of the 2012 ING New York Marathon.
The mayor's action came amid an outcry that the event would take away from efforts to help thousands of New Yorkers who are without power or homeless because of superstorm Sandy.
"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 mayor said in a statement. "The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it."
He added, "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."
Bloomberg had been consulting this evening with the New York Road Runners, the organization behind the annual race this evening.
Previously, the marathon started at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, one of the hardest hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents were still without power and many remained homeless. At least 19 people also died on Staten Island because of Sandy.
"[New York] has to show that we are here and we are going to recover," he said during a news conference earlier this week, "[and] give people something to cheer about in what's been a very dismal week for a lot of people."
Today, however, Tweets blasting the decision to proceed with the marathon had increased from about 10,000 Tweets to more than 50,000.
"Worst storm ever. No electricity. No gas. No subways. Hey, let's host a marathon!!!!" Tweeted Justin Stangel.
"Bodies still being found on Staten Island, people eating from dumpsters in Brooklyn, but the Marathon gets generators & food trucks? WTF?" Tweeted CatsPolitics.
Even city officials criticized the decision, with Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro calling it "crazy" and City Council President Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg loyalist, stating: "The decision to move forward with the marathon is not a decision I would have made."
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