New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called off the New York Marathon, bowing to political pressure and criticism that the race would divert city resources away from the Hurricane Sandy cleanup effort. But it will cause another financial blow to the already reeling city.
Bloomberg wanted to move forward with the marathon because it was expected to generate $350 million in economic activity for the beleaguered city, which is losing tens of millions of dollars a day because of the hurricane.
The mayor also wanted to marathon to go forward as a symbol of the city’s resiliency and a sign that it was quickly moving ahead to restore normalcy to the city. But the marathon would have placed a huge strain on city sanitation and police resources. It also would tax transportation, with half the subway system still knocked out.
Critics charged that the race would favor Manhattan over the other city boroughs, especially Queens and Staten Island, both of which have been hard hit by the storm, which has left nearly 100 people dead up and down the coast. An estimated 40 people were killed in the New York area.
“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” Mr. Bloomberg and the organizers said in a joint news release.
“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.”
But race supporters said the marathon is, in many ways, helping expedite the cleanup, not only to make sure the park (and the city) is presentable for TV audiences around the world, but for running fans, and the 47,000 runners who have trained for months for the race.
TheImproper reported the mayor’s support for the race yesterday. “Some people said you shouldn’t run the marathon,” he said.
“There’s an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people. We have to have an economy. There’s lots of people that have come here,” he added.
Supporters also noted that the 2001 NYC Marathon continued just seven weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — the largest non-natural disaster in U.S. history — as a way to show the world the city’s resilience.
Apparently the tipping point for the mayor came after the Police Benevolent Association said the NYPD was stretched too thin to facilitate what he called “essentially a citywide party.”
“We are spread far too thin fighting crime, terrorism and the effects of this disaster,” union head Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement.