, NEW YORK, Nov 2 – New York City’s decision to go ahead with its annual marathon even as many residents struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is stirring controversy among officials and even runners themselves.
Shortly after the storm, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the marathon would go ahead despite the devastating storm, quickly raising hackles among some New Yorkers and their representatives.
“Lives are lost, families are homeless, and homes are destroyed, and the city is worried about the marathon. Where are our priorities?” New York congressman Michael Grimm wrote on his Twitter feed.
James Oddo, a New York City council member representing Staten Island, one of the city’s boroughs worst affected by the storm, was even blunter.
“If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon I will scream. We have people with no homes and no hope right now,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.
The New York Post dedicated its front page and an editorial column to the row.
“The notion that so much as a flashlight battery would be devoted to a sporting event is outrageous,” the paper’s editorial said.
Bloomberg responded to the criticism on Thursday, promising that resources would not be diverted from those in need.
“The marathon’s not going to redirect any focus,” he pledged.
“By Sunday we’ll have electricity back downtown, that will free up an enormous amount of police. Also a lot of the transportation needs that we have during the week aren’t there on the weekend.”
“This city is a city where we have to go on,” he added.
Those planning to run the race expressed mixed feelings.