New York • After days of intensifying pressure from runners, politicians and the general public to cancel the New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, city officials and the event’s organizers decided Friday afternoon that the race would not be held Sunday, according to a person familiar with the decision.
Such a move would be historic — the marathon has been held every year since 1970, including the race in 2001 held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — but seemed inevitable as opposition to the marathon swelled. Critics said that it was in poor taste to hold a foot race through the five boroughs while so many people in the area are still suffering from the storm’s damages, and that city services should focus on storm relief, not the marathon. Proponents of the marathon — notably Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, director of the marathon — said the race would provide a needed morale boost, as well as an economic one.
Among the many details that remain unclear are whether race would be postponed or canceled entirely and how popular the plan would be among the field of nearly 50,000 runners who were expected to compete in Sunday’s marathon, thousands of whom traveled to New York from other countries.
Mayor Bloomberg and Wittenberg, who is chief executive of New York Road Runners, the organization that operates the marathon, repeatedly stood behind the plan, insisting it was best for the city. But many runners joined a chorus of politicians and area residents this week in speaking out against the plan to stage the marathon despite the widespread damage wrought by the storm Monday night.