New York – As New York City continues to pick up the pieces following Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was forced to cancel the New York City marathon after public outrage continued to mount.
In a statement released by Bloomberg and New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg, the two said the marathon had "become the source of controversy and division."
"The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination," the mayor and marathon sponsor wrote.
"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 race was set to begin in Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.
In an interview with New York 1 local news Staten Island state Sen. Andrew Lanza said, "For this marathon to have gone on would have been not a slap in the face but a knife to the heart."
Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino was the first to hint at the marathon cancellation when he announced on the business news channel that his sources on Wall Street said the sponsor's were calling for the event's cancellation.
Some are speculating that the cancellation came down to sponsors not wanting to have their name attached with the growing controversy of continuing on with the marathon.
Only a short time before the announcement, Bloomberg was adamant about continuing on with the race.
In a press conference early Friday afternoon, Bloomberg said the marathon offers the city a chance to “show solidarity with one another.”
“If you remember going back to 9/11, I think Rudy (Giuliani) made the right decision running the marathon.”
As of now it is unclear of if and when the marathon will be rescheduled.
The mayor's office said the New York Road Runners will have additional information in the coming days for the races participants.
The marathon brings an estimated $340 million into the city as runners from around the world make the journey to participate.
Many of the marathon's events, including the Runner's World magazine annual pre-marathon party, have been turned into volunteer and fundraising opportunities.
Already NYRR has committed to donating $1 million to the Sandy relief fund and said more than $1.5 million in pledges already had been secured from sponsors.
Includes material from the Associated Press.