The New York City Marathon scheduled for this Sunday has been officially cancelled, though earlier this week Mayor Bloomberg claimed Hurricane Sandy would not thwart the annual race, reported CNN.
“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,” a statement from Bloomberg and race organizers said.
Bloomberg’s previous insistence on holding the race drew heavy criticism from New Yorkers who called the decision insensitive to those suffering from the storm’s widespread damage.
While organizers considered a number of options — including postponing the race or shortening it — they ultimately decided on a complete cancellation this year. But CEO of New York Road Runners Mary Wittenberg said that in the end, participants had planned on Nov. 4 and the strain on volunteers would be too much.
To date, the storm has taken 175 lives, 106 within the U.S., according to CNN.
Wittenberg said in an interview with ABC that her group originally hoped the race could bring people together, “uplift everybody” and “honor those who’ve been hurt and lost,” but it ultimately became clear that the race instead became a center of controversy.
Watch the ABC interview with Wittenberg below.