Mayor Michael Bloomberg had defended his decision to hold the 26.2-mile race as scheduled on Sunday, although many New Yorkers complained it would be insensitive and divert city resources at a time when many are suffering.
"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," he said in a statement Friday evening. "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," he added. "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."