By Duncan Mackay

New York_City_Marathon_signage_2012November 2 - The New York City Marathon on Sunday (November 4) has been cancelled after Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed the controversy over holding the event was distracting from recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy.

The decision came just a few hours after Bloomberg told a press conference that holding the Marathon would be a morale and money boost for the city.

But the decision to hold the event, which last year attracted 47,500 competitors, had been criticised by several groups who claimed that it would divert resources needed to help New York recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, which has left nearly 100 people dead.

Some people had set up online petitions calling for runners to boycott the 26.2-mile competition, or to run backward from the starting line in protest.

"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," Bloomberg said in a statement. 

"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.

"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 has been held every year since 1970, including in 2001 when it was held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attack. 

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