The twin bombings that turned the Boston Marathon finish line into a terror scene reverberated throughout sports, forcing cancellations in the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League and a review of security plans for the London Marathon this weekend.
About 2 1/2 hours after Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia crossed the finish line to win the men’s title, two powerful explosions disrupted the 116-year-old Boston race, killing at least three people and hospitalizing at least 128.
Last night’s NHL game in Boston, where the Bruins were to host the Ottawa Senators, was postponed. The NBA canceled tonight’s Indiana at Boston game. A former National Football League official said such an attack can hurt all sports.
“I always feared it,” said Frank Hawkins, the former NFL senior vice president for business affairs and now a founding partner of New York-based Scalar Media Partners. “Anything that makes people reluctant to gather in large crowds has the potential for depressing attendance.
“This is probably less problematic than having the same thing happen at most events, because it’s on public streets not fully secured in the way that a stadium is, but it’s still going to be a problem,” Hawkins said in a phone interview.
The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual long-distance running event, said on its website that 17,580 runners finished the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) race out of 23,336 starters, or 75 percent.
Desisa, 23, ran away from countryman Gebre Gebremariam, the 2010 New York City Marathon winner, and Kenya’s Micah Kogo in the final 400 meters to win in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 22 seconds.
Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 winner from Kenya, won the women’s race in a time of 2:26.25, topping Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia by 33 seconds and Kenyan defending champion Sharon Cherop by 36 seconds.
Desisa and Jeptoo soon became historical footnotes when the explosions knocked runners to the street and sent smoke and flame soaring in what local and U.S. officials labeled an act of terrorism. Boston Police said they had not made any arrests.
“This is a despicable thing to have been done on such a glorious day,” Jeffrey Hunt, 30, an Australian who finished eighth in the men’s race, wrote on his official website.
The NHL said the Bruins-Senators game at the TD Garden will be rescheduled. With both teams fighting for postseason spots, Bruins President Cam Neely said the game was canceled so law enforcement authorities could have “all resources available for their investigation.”
The Celtics and Pacers already have locked in playoff spots, and the NBA said the game will not be rescheduled.
“We regularly practice a wide range of state-of-the-art security measures in all of our arenas,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in an e-mail. “We will continue to work with our arena and team partners, along with local law enforcement, to be proactive around the perimeter of our venues and maintain a high level of vigilance, as always.”
Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said in an e-mail that “the safety of everyone that comes to our ballparks is always our top priority and we will continue to do everything to ensure a safe environment for our fans.”
Security for the April 21 London Marathon, in which about 37,000 people are entered to run, is being reviewed by organizers and police after the Boston bombings.
“We fully expect that Sunday’s race, registration and associated events will go ahead as originally scheduled,” organizers said in a posting on the London Marathon’s Facebook page.
At least 34 more marathons are scheduled in the U.S. before the end of April, including in Salt Lake City on April 20 and the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon seven days later, according to Marathonguide.com.
In Oklahoma City, marathon organizers will meet with government departments and law enforcement agencies over the coming days to assess any changes that may be needed in their safety and security plans for the April 28 race.
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, in its 13th year, commemorates victims of a bomb detonated by Timothy McVeigh in front of the city’s federal building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people and injuring more than 800.
“I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction and say we’re canceling the race or we’re going to have it no matter what,” Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, said in a phone interview. “We don’t want to cave in to fear, but we don’t want to make an irresponsible decision either.”