New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to mounting criticism by announcing on Friday that the New York City Marathon will not be run as scheduled on Sunday.
Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, the president of the New York Road Runners, issued a statement regarding the postponement that, according to USA Today, read as follows:
"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.
"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. 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 New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead for participants."
In recent days, Bloomberg had ignored criticism and announced that Sunday's 26.2-mile race would be run as scheduled despite the destruction created by Hurricane Sandy.
Bloomberg had said it would give the city "something to cheer about."
But his decision to have the race run this weekend was widely criticized because of the resources it would require at a time when New York residents had lost power, their homes and family members.
Thousands of runners said they would boycott the race.
Finally the major changed his stance and decided to postpone the race.
The marathon, which has been run every year since 1970, brings an estimated $340 million into the city, according to USA Today.
More than 47,000 people had signed up for this year's race, although organizers believe about 8,000 of the 30,000 out-of-town runners were not expected to make it to the starting line.
An online petition had collected more than 20,000 signatures by Friday afternoon from runners and others who called for the race to be postponed, according to Malia Rulon Herman, of the Gannett Washington Bureau.