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New York City Marathon canceled after mounting criticism

NEW YORK CITY (BNO NEWS) -- The New York City Marathon, which is one of the largest sporting events in the world and was due to be held on Sunday, was canceled on Friday after mounting criticism that it shouldn't take place so soon after the region was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

The annual event, held every year since 1970, covers 26.2 miles (42.1 kilometers) and courses through all five boroughs of New York City. But controversy erupted earlier this week when organizers said the event would go-ahead as scheduled despite the storm which has killed dozens and continues to leave hundreds of thousands of people without power.

"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," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement on Friday. "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."

He added: "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."

New York Road Runners (NYRR) released a similar statement and said it would provide additional information in the coming days, though it is unclear if the event could be rescheduled. "We thank you for your dedication to the spirit of this race," the organization said, adding that its Health and Fitness Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center will remain open on Saturday.

Superstorm Sandy tore a path of destruction when it made landfall on the U.S. East Coast on Monday, killing at least 106 people and leaving more than eight million people without electricity. The storm churned across Pennsylvania on Tuesday on a path toward Canada, where two others were killed. The storm had earlier killed 70 people in the Caribbean.

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