Runners make their way down 44th Drive in the Queens borough of New York during the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, in New York. / AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City Marathon has been canceled.
His statement Friday came after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race.
With people in storm-ravaged areas still shivering without electricity and the death toll in New York City at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon on Sunday.
"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," Bloomberg said in a statement. "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. "
Earlier, Bloomberg said he hoped to lift spirits and unite the stricken city when he decided to press ahead with this weekend's marathon. Instead, the move became a source of division Friday, with some New Yorkers - even some runners - saying this is not the time for a road race.
They complained that holding the event just six days after Superstorm Sandy would be insensitive and tie up precious resources when many people are still suffering.
The marathon's start is in Staten Island, the hardest hit part of the city, with at least 19 dead.
Joan Wacks, whose Staten Island waterfront condo was swamped with 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water, predicted authorities will still be recovering bodies when the estimated 40,000 runners from around the world hit the streets for the 26.2-mile race Sunday, and she called the mayor "tone deaf."
"If there are any resources being put toward the marathon, that's wrong. I'm sorry, that's wrong," she said.