New York marathon canceled after heated controversy

The 43rd edition of the race will not take place as planned on Sunday.  The town hall resolved to cancel it as the region struggles to recover from Storm Sandy.

The New York City Marathon will not take place. The mayor of the city, Michael Bloomberg, who had confirmed, earlier Friday, the holding of the 43e edition of the most famous race in the world, eventually gave way. Many critics considered it indecent to hold such an event after the passage of storm Sandy, which left 40 people dead in a city where hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity, heat or water.

“We cannot get into controversy over such an iconic sporting event like this and forget all the great efforts that were made after the hurricane hit to get the city back on track,” said Mr. Bloomberg.

Earlier today, the mayor said the city’s economy would need the marathon to recover, an event that generates more than $ 300 million and attracts 40,000 visitors each year. “There are a very large number of small businesses that depend on this event. We need these economic benefits “, he had justified himself. This is the first cancellation of the New York Marathon since 1970. In 2001, it took place, two months after the September 11 attacks.


Beyond the economic benefits, his supporters saw in the maintenance of the race a strong symbol: “If you remember, after September 11, 2001, Rudy [Giuliani, maire de New York à l’époque] had made the decision to maintain the marathon “Mr Bloomberg said. “The marathon embodies the spirit of New York, its vitality, its tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers”, outbid Mary Wittenberg, the president of the NYRR.

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Michael Bloomberg had to bow to the arguments of his municipal opposition, in particular. A member of the city council, Domenic Recchia Jr (Democrat), thus judged the maintenance of the marathon “simply scandalous” in view of the difficulties of the inhabitants deprived of food, shelter or electricity. A petition was circulating in this direction, which had collected tens of thousands of signatures. The “one” of New York Post also denounced, on Friday, the presence of three “giant generators” in Central Park, which would supply electricity to the race finish tent, “while New Yorkers suffer.”

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The American media on Friday multiplied the reports in Staten Island, from where the 47,500 runners were to start. The inhabitants denounce the slowness and ineffectiveness of the aid. Le New York Timesthus recounts scenes of desolation in this district where there are nineteen dead, out of the forty that the New York authorities have so far counted. Flooded streets, destroyed houses, the daily also testifies to the macabre searches of the rescuers to find other bodies buried under the rubble. There were many who rose up against the holding of a race “futile” and against the indecency of a journey through devastated areas.

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The organizers assured, them, that the holding of the marathon would not disperse the resources necessary for the victims of Sandy. The NYRR had thus planned to hire private companies to replace municipal officers normally assigned to supervision (security and medical), but who are this week monopolized by the relief efforts.

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The route of the marathon, which crosses five districts of the city, also avoided the areas most affected by the floods. But the city’s infrastructure remained very disrupted on Friday. The New York subway is starting to function again, but partially. The other problem concerned the transportation of the 20,000 or so participants arriving from all over the world or the rest of the country. All three airports reopened on Thursday, but air traffic disruptions remain significant.

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