COMMENTARY | New York City officials have finally made the right choice.
Several media outlets, including Yahoo! Sports and The New York Times, are reporting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg have gone back on their promises to run the race on Nov. 4. In the wake of the disaster caused by Hurricane Sandy, the choice is the right one.
It's just too bad that it took officials so long to arrive at the decision.
On Oct. 31, Bloomberg and Wittenberg both announced that the race would go on, dubbing it the "Race to Recover." The race would help raise morale while bringing more than $340 million into the city, officials argued. In addition, the New York Road Runners vowed to donate more than $1 million to recovery efforts.
Bloomberg explained how he and Wittenberg arrived at the decision to cancel the race in a statement on Nov. 2:
"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.
"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."
The race was scheduled to take runners through five boroughs of the city, and the starting line would have been on Staten Island in one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Can you imagine 45,000 runners crowding the streets in an area where first responders are still searching for survivors?
The very idea alone seems absurd, but when you consider the sheer resources needed to organize and run the marathon, the idea becomes even more preposterous. And we aren't just talking man power and crowd control here.
We're also talking about more than 60,000 gallons of water, hundreds of generators, and many, many first aid supplies. In addition, marathon runners require food and other supplies to cover such a great distance on foot. In fact, news reports have shown hundreds of pallets of food stacked and ready for the race.
That's not even mentioning the people who have lost their homes and are being displaced from hotels and the like because runners from out of town -- who previously reserved the rooms -- are arriving for the race.
Wouldn't it be better if the race had been canceled earlier in the week so that some of those runners could have avoided the headache of traveling to New York, leaving more hotel rooms open for those who need them? Perhaps if officials had arrived at the best decision earlier in the week, those supplies that have been saved for the race could have been used more effectively among those who are hungry and injured.
Instead, officials insisted that the race must go on in order to raise morale among those in the city. If you ask me, having a party when people are grieving and attempting to put their lives back together is not only inappropriate, it's inconsiderate and unthoughtful.
I'm glad that Bloomberg and Wittenberg finally arrived at the proper decision. It's just too bad it took them so long.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime fan of Olympic sports. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46