Return to Transcripts main page


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; WHO Asks Wealthier Nations to Donate Vaccines; Kenya Suspends Vaccinations Due to Shortage; Gasoline Shortage in U.S. Begins to Ease; Japanese CEO Urges Government to Cancel Games. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired May 15, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): No end in sight to the deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as calls for a cease-fire grow. Also --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of us are safe, until all of us are safe.

HOLMES (voice-over): Kenya and much of Africa, simply left out, vaccines in short supply. Concerns, growing, that they could be the next India.


HOLMES (voice-over): And China makes a major advance to a space program, saying it successfully landed a rover on Mars.

Hello, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, appreciate your company, I am Michael Holmes.


HOLMES: It is 9 am in Gaza, where the death toll from days of Israeli shelling and bombardment has risen to at least 126 Palestinians, including more than 30 children.

Plus, it's not just Gaza. The entire region now, appearing to be lurching to a bloody showdown.


HOLMES (voice-over): On Friday, Palestinian clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, leading to the deadliest confrontations there in years. At least 10 Palestinians, reported killed. Many others, injured. Dozens, as the Israeli military masses along Gaza's border. The prospect of an imminent ground assault, growing by the hour.

The IDF says it is targeting tunnels in Gaza, used by militants. Israel says a staggering 2,000 rockets have been fired towards Israeli cities over the past 5 days, most of them, destroyed by Israel's Iron Dome system.

But some slipped through, with deadly consequence. At least 8 Israelis have been killed. CNN correspondents are, deployed through the region, we see our coverage with Nic Robinson, near the Gaza border.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Over Gaza, the fury of war frozen. Hamas rockets tear towards Israel's Iron Dome, defensive tentacles, on the ground, fear.

Families flee, sheltering in U.N.-designated safe havens, schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They are targeting our homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We stayed together at home with a group of children. Suddenly, we heard artillery hitting us from every side. Wherever we looked, it was hitting. We and our children are completely exhausted.

ROBERTSON: The toll, deaths and destruction, climbing on both sides.

At Gaza's border, tanks, troops, armored personnel carriers on standby, Iron Dome intercepts overhead, a background beat of war.

(on camera): And that's a siren here. And that means we are being -- this location is being targeted. So, we are going to move swiftly for cover.

(voice-over): Not enough troops here for a ground incursion, but getting their job done, according to Israel's prime minister.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I said that when we strike Hamas and the other terrorist organizations very hard. And we are doing just that. In the last 24 hours, we have attacked underground targets. Hamas thought it could hide there. But it cannot hide there.

ROBERTSON: Away from Gaza, at Friday prayers in the venerated Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, tensions mounting, worshipers angry over Palestinian suffering, clashing with Israeli police.

Across the West Bank, confrontations continuing throughout the day, indirectly, Hamas managing to turn Gaza's suffering to their advantage.

ABU OBAIDA, SPOKESMAN, HAMAS MILITARY WING (through translator): If it comes to responding to your aggression and claiming victory for our people and our sanctities, there are no red lines, sacred rules of engagement or complicated calculations.

ROBERTSON: What's lacking here is diplomacy, no off-ramp in sight, the suffering spurring increasing international calls for an end to the violence, but nothing to show for it yet -- Nic Robertson, CNN, on the border with Gaza.


HOLMES: Journalist Neri Zilber, joining me live from Tel Aviv.

When we look back at what happened on the West Bank, deadliest day for years, those funerals are coming in the hours ahead.


HOLMES: They could be the spark for violence, and it is Nakba Day, itself, a traditional day of protest.

What of the fears of escalation?

NERI ZILBER, JOURNALIST: That's right, Nick (sic). The tensions in Jerusalem spread into Gaza, Gaza spread into communal fighting and riots, on the streets of Israel.

As you mentioned, yesterday, it was a deadly day in the West Bank, which actually had remained relatively stable throughout, in recent days. Today is Nakba Day, a traditional day of protest, when Palestinians marked a creation of the state of Israel in 1948. They call it the Day of Catastrophe, usually marked by demonstrations, marchers and clashes. Today, arguably, will be a lot of that and likely worse.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, on the political side, ironically, has this, in a way, saved the political career of Benjamin Netanyahu for now?

He was on the verge of being out and it doesn't seem to be the case anymore, since the fighting began.

ZILBER: That's right. Amidst the escalation, the fighting, big political drama in Israel. On Thursday, when right wing politician Naftali Bennett, who was set to be prime minister in the matter of days as the head of an alternative government, a non Netanyahu government, actually backtracked and took that option off the table, going back into the fold and negotiating, right now, with Netanyahu in terms of another Netanyahu government.

It looks like Netanyahu, due to the fighting and the rising tensions, both in Israel and with regards to Gaza, actually scored an important political victory that may sustain his role for a little while longer.

HOLMES: I also wanted to ask you about the challenges for the IDF, in dealing with Gaza. It's not just Gaza, that have you've been saying, the West Bank as well and incidents at the border with Jordan, Lebanon and missiles coming from Syria.

How thinly are stretched to the Israeli defense forces?

ZILBER: It appears they are quite stretched. We should remember, earlier this week, in order to quell clashes and intercommunal unrest inside of Israel, the Israeli government chose to redeploy about 9 companies of border police, precisely from the West Bank, back into Israel.

So it appears that the West Bank may be less equipped to handle what is coming later today. But you are right. Today will be a major test for the Israeli forces, operationally and it will be a huge indication of where things are in the coming days.

HOLMES: All right, I appreciate it, journalist Neri Zilber there for us in Tel Aviv.

Now regional support is growing for Palestinians in Gaza, as the violence continues to escalate.


HOLMES (voice-over): Crowds of people, waving Palestinian flags at a protest in Istanbul on Friday, following evening prayers. Turkey's president says, Israel has, quote, "crossed all the lines" in the latest hostilities.

We are seeing demonstrations like that, all across the region. For more, let's bring in CNN Salma Abdelaziz, coming to us live, from Beirut.


HOLMES: There were protests there on the Israeli border and a death as well. Tell us what happened.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, Michael. Another day of protest, this time, some protesters tried to storm the fence, according to Lebanese sources.

One 21-year-old man, dying of shrapnel wounds from a rocket that was fired, by the Israeli military. The military says it responding to, quote, "rioters," who were trying to storm the fence.

But this is concerning, Michael. Every drop of bloodshed on the border could escalate, could turn into something further. And this happened after 3 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon, into the Mediterranean Sea, towards northern Israel.

So yet another indication, holding their breath, waiting and wondering as to what will happen next. It's not just here in Lebanon but Syria as well, we see rockets fired towards Israel and Jordan. There is a mass demonstration as well too so that in as well.

So protesters along the border fences but, of course, if the Israeli military are responding and with all the different factions on the ground, here in Lebanon we have Hezbollah, who we have not heard from yet.

Of course, I was at a protest yesterday, a rally here in Beirut, where they were condemning Israeli action, accusing them of human rights crimes, accusing them of war crimes. You hear all the different factions, really, pushing out traditional rhetoric.


ABDELAZIZ: Protests coming out, along the border fences and more lives lost -- Michael.

HOLMES: Salma Abdelaziz in Beirut, I appreciate, it thank you so much.

We will take a quick break on the program. When we come back, vaccination centers, like this one in Kenya, stand empty as the vaccine supply runs out.

Also India's prime minister finally speaks to his country about the ongoing COVID crisis after weeks of silence. We will be right back.




HOLMES: India reporting more than 326,000 new coronavirus infections on Saturday bringing its pandemic total to 24.3 million. Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly addressing the crisis for the first time in weeks on Friday. In a virtual meeting, he said India was now on a war footing, describing the virus as an adversary.


NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In front of us is an invisible enemy. And this enemy has many faces. Because of coronavirus, we have lost a lot of our loved ones.


HOLMES: Cases are still soaring in neighboring Nepal as well, on Friday the impoverished nation reporting more than 8,000 new infections. Nepal has hit the number for 10 straight days now.

The race between the virus and vaccines may be about to become a great deal tighter. That is according to the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who issued a stark warning after cases of the Indian COVID variant doubled in England in a week. He said the government will accelerate its vaccination rollout in response.

Britain due to enter the next phase of reopening on Monday. Mr. Johnson saying that will go ahead as planned.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I do not believe that we need on the present evidence to delay our road map and we will proceed with our plan to move to step 3 in England for Monday.

But I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move, to step four in June. And I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: The town of Bolton in northwest England is taking no chances. Ramping up its vaccine rollout, door to door testing and mobile testing units also being deployed. Bolton has been hit hard by the rapid spread of the Indian variant.

The crisis in India being felt in other ways as well.


HOLMES: The country's the world's largest vaccine supplier. But India's halted exports while it struggles to control its own surge in cases. And that is prompting a plea from the director general of the World Health Organization.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: In a handful of rich countries, which are the majority of the vaccine supply, lower risk groups are now being vaccinated.

I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents. But right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to COVAX.


HOLMES: India's suspension of vaccine exports means little supply making it to many developing nations. Kenya is one of them, where vaccine doses are now running out. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Nairobi for us.

How bad is this shortage?

What is the impact?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, about 2 weeks ago, the World Health Organization was saying that about 2 percent of all vaccines administered worldwide were administered in African countries. That has gone down now to about 1 percent.

I've been here for the past week and I'm really struck by the stark contrast of what is going on here and what is going on in other countries. You have places like the West, U.K., talking about dropping masks, people allowed to hug, people of all age groups getting vaccinated.

But here in Kenya, other African countries, it is a very different reality.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): This was the scene at Nairobi's Kenya International Hospital just a few days ago, a constant stream of people eager to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They were the lucky ones, receiving some of the country's precious

last shots.

KARADSHEH: This is what it looks like right now. This hospital was administering the highest number of COVID-19 vaccines in the country on a daily basis and they had to suspend the campaign and don't know when they're going to be able to resume again.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Kenya has relied solely on the global vaccine alliance COVAX, that has provided the African country with just over 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India.

But with India facing its own COVID catastrophe, it has halted all vaccine exports. The painful impact already being felt across COVAX dependent nations like Kenya. This country is going to run out of vaccines in a matter of days.

Busy vaccination centers across its capital city now deserted.

KARADSHEH: We have been to several health care facilities and hospitals here in Nairobi. We just cannot seem to find one still offering COVID-19 vaccines.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Those desperately searching for a first dose are being turned away. This mother of 2 does not want her to show her face. She's been to every major hospital in the city. She is now trying smaller clinics.

She says losing a close friend to COVID-19 was a terrifying experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having lost someone who is younger than me. It is very serious. It is important to be immunized. I'm supposed to put food on the table. I cannot stay at home.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): This 57-year-old person was supposed to get his second shot next week but the government has pushed back all second doses by at least 4 more weeks. The government's promised those who had their first shot, there will be a second one but with a June delivery now in doubt no one really knows when the next consignment will arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are told to get the vaccine, because if you get corona it will not be severe. What I hear is that corona keeps increasing. That is why we are eager to get a second dose.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The World Health Organization has warned vaccine delays risk opening the door to a new wave of infections on the continent and the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we are seeing in India, like the pyres and the fires, bodies being burned, either packing (ph) we might actually see a mass graves.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Dr. Ahmed Kalebi, one of Kenya's top scientists, has been warning that African countries could be the next India. He says no health care system in Africa can deal with a surge like the one that is devastating India.

DR. AHMED KALEBI, TOP KENYAN SCIENTIST: What is happening in India is I think a red flag for the whole world that for the 3rd world countries, the poorer countries, when they are spared the first wave, and the second wave in terms of the mortality, we might actually see something worse if something is not done.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): He says it is time for wealthier nations to rethink their vaccination strategies.


KALEBI: It makes no sense to give teenagers in schools vaccines in richer countries when we know there are people who are superspreaders, of likely superspreaders across the world, who have not been vaccinated. This are the likely breeding grounds for new super variants. This is a global village. And none of us are safe until all of us are safe.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): It seems once again Africa is being left behind. But with this persistent virus, what happens in Africa likely won't stay in Africa.


KARADSHEH: And, you know, Michael, the Kenyan government says it's working to secure 13 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to arrive by August, perhaps earlier. They're also talking to other vaccine manufacturers. None of it is certain.

This crisis, the shortage, it's not just caused by India. You also had the fact that wealthier nations have been hoarding vaccines. We heard it from Dr. Kalebi in our piece, saying it doesn't make sense to be vaccinating kids and wealthier nations when you have vulnerable populations around the world.

That same call we also heard from the World Health Organization chief, saying send those extra doses out to the poor countries. There is a solution, Michael. There have been rising calls to waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, to boost manufacturing and have more doses available. But that is going to require a real will to do it.

HOLMES: Of course, as the report says, it's in the interest of wealthier countries; the mutations spread and these other countries, they will come back to the wealthy countries and perhaps defeat them. It's shortsighted. Jomana, good to see you my friend, out in Nairobi.

And here in the United States, Americans try to navigate new guidance from the CDC that says fully vaccinated people can go without a mask in most settings, both inside and outdoors.

The abrupt change has sparked widespread confusion, though. The nation's leading infectious disease expert, however, says those who are vaccinated should trust the science. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: People who feel that, which they should now, based on the data, that it is safe for them not only outdoors but indoors, they should feel comfortable in not wearing a mask.


HOLMES: When it comes to schools, Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated children will still need to wear a mask in the classroom.

Now another ransomware attack after the one on the U.S. pipeline. This time affecting hospitals in Ireland. We will explain when we come back.

Also a deadly blast hits a mosque in Afghanistan right after the Eid holiday. No one seems to know who did it or why.




HOLMES: A gasoline shortage in the southeastern U.S. is starting to ease a little bit following a ransomware attack on a major pipeline. A travel website says fuel pumps are out of fuel but shortages remain widespread in seven states and in Washington, D.C.

Sources tell CNN the Colonial Pipeline company paid off the group called DarkSide. It's unclear how much but the ransom demand was reportedly around $5 million. The pipeline is back online.


HOLMES: But it will take days before supplies get back to normal.

Meanwhile Ireland's public health service has shut down its computer systems after being hit by a significant and sophisticated ransomware attack. The health service executive says it is having a huge impact, especially on X-ray appointments.

He says they're working with security partners to assess the situation but the Irish prime minister says his country will not cave into the demands of the hackers.


MICHEAL MARTIN, IRISH TAOISEACH: And I think we're very clear. We will not be paying any ransom or engaging in any of that sort of (INAUDIBLE) on that. It will take some days to assess the impact and that is the proper way to do this. We will make those assessments over time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: The Taliban say they had nothing to do with a deadly mosque

bombing north of Kabul. The mosque was hit on Friday when a holiday cease-fire the Taliban had declared was supposed to be in effect.

Police say at least 12 people killed, 15 others injured. The Taliban later condemned the blast and said Afghanistan's intelligence agency was behind it. No official claims of responsibility.

Violence has been increasing across Afghanistan as the U.S. pulls out its remaining troops.

Israeli artillery and airstrikes creating a terrifying reality inside Gaza, especially for the youngest victims.

Also the conflict's impact on Gaza's children when we come back.

Also mission accomplished, China says they've made it to Mars. What NASA has to say about it after the break.




HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers, all around the world, I am Michael Holmes, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Appreciate your company.

Returning to our top story, the intense fighting between Israeli forces and Gaza militants, showing no signs of slowing down. Friday, seeing a back and forth of Israeli airstrikes and Gaza rocket fire. Causing the death toll, to climb.

Israel says 8 of its citizens, now killed, since the exchange of fire began Monday. Palestinian officials say, at least 126 people have lost their lives in Gaza, including 31 children.

The U.N. says, more than 10,000 people, now displaced. Their homes, reduced to rubble. The Palestinian mission to the U.N., again, appealing for the international community to intervene, to end the bloodshed. Israel, though, flat-out rejecting any talk of cease-fire.


HOLMES: So the human misery inside of Gaza 1goes on. And, of course, as is always the case, the children suffer more. CNN's Arwa Damon with their tragic story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sister unable to comprehend the loss. A father gripped by gut wrenching pain, a family unable to understand why.

Why did 11-year-old Hussein Hamad have to die? A Palestinian children's rights organization says the cause of death

is unclear. There were both rockets being fired and war planes overhead. The health ministry in Gaza says it was an airstrike and, in the family's mind, there is no doubt.

"Why did you have to kill him?" his uncle asks. "They kill and there is no one to make them answer for it. The whole world is watching.

"How can the adults unable to cope with their own sorrow wipe the tears of the children and reassure them that everything will be all right, that this too shall pass? Loss like this, it never does."

Two-year-old Yazan dead, along with two siblings and a young cousin Ibrahim Hassanain also dead, Hamada (ph) and Ahmad (ph) and Amour (ph), the growing list of children forever gone.

There is no escaping from Gaza, a densely packed tiny strip of land under Israeli blockade. Hamas fires rockets towards Israel and Israel dispenses collective punishment. Where there are no shelters, no air raid sirens, just warnings from the Israelis that send families pouring into the streets with what they can carry.

"What should we do?" this father asks helpless. "Of course, we will leave. Should we wait for them to kill us and our kids?"

There are no reassuring words, no tucking their children safely into bed, telling them that the nightmare is over.

"Please, please people, have some empathy with us. We are dying every day. This is too much," another father pleads.

Israel says its strikes are precise, targeting Hamas. But targeting someone in a residential apartment building is to target all of its residents. The shockwave ripples through the neighborhood. Windows smash, walls crack and crumble, shrapnel flies.

And even if they managed to flee before the strikes, all they owned in life is reduced to rubble. No one can promise these children that, once they heal and go back home, if they even have a home to go back to, that they will be safe to do so for this is Gaza, where, even if this round of bombardment does pass, the next one will always loom -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.



HOLMES: CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller joins me now from Washington. He is also a former State Department Middle East negotiator and a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment.

It's funny; you and I have covered this conflict, literally for decades, a cycle of rinse and repeat. There's a war every few years, hundreds, thousands killed, mostly Palestinian. And here we are again. Nothing changes.

What is it going to take to change things at a fundamental level or we will do this again in another few years?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that's the point. The real tragedy here is that the pain of death and destruction is all -- it is horrible to begin with but there will be no purpose to it.

Because at the end of this round, whether it is a week or 2 weeks, probably brought to end by an Egyptian cease-fire, Israel and Hamas will not be able to coexist in the sense that they are going to negotiate a long-term interim agreement.

On the broader problem between the government of Israel in the Palestinian Authority, the mistrust is so profound. In gaps on the core issues, Jerusalem, border security, refugee, end of conflicts, Grand Canyon-like in the character and the politics on each side, so toxic that the odds of any kind of political process, to follow this, are literally negligible.

HOLMES: To that point, you and I both know the 2 state solution is effectively dead from a lack of political will. It's a pipe dream.


HOLMES: One state solution is being suggested but Israel won't go there because of the Jewish majority would be lost.

What are the other solutions?

This surely cannot continue.

MILLER: Well, all conflicts don't have ends and the reality is, most likely, because Israelis and Palestinians have a proximity problem and their lives are inextricably linked together, it's going to toggle backward and forward in the foreseeable future between the 2 state solution, that is probably still too important to abandon, on one hand, and a 2 state solution that is simply impossible to implement on the other.

Therein lies the conundrum of this conflict. I see no way. There is an argument that people have made, that only external pressure, international pressure, can solve this issue. The reality is, the vaunted international community is simply unwilling and unable -- look at Syria, for example.

HOLMES: You talked about lives being inextricably linked. That is true.

But would any of this be happening if there had not been a crackdown at the Al-Aqsa mosque or these moves to evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah?

What is your take on that central issue in all of this, the potential eviction of Palestinian families from homes in East Jerusalem, which critics, say is a deliberate creeping settler encroachment on East Jerusalem, to change the demographics and what that represents? MILLER: Little doubt about that. I think one of the reasons that the Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa had so much appeal is because it embodied the 2 kinds of identities that resonate with Palestinians and even Arab citizens of Israel.

The issue of dispossession, on one hand, the displacement, and the issue of Jerusalem on the other, it is a powerful mix. The fact is the Israelis over policed. I think in large part their actions were irresponsible.

As a consequence, they gave Hamas a terrific gift, because now it is not Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas that is the defender of Jerusalem. He is irrelevant. He cannot control Jerusalem and Palestinians. He cannot control Arab citizens of Israel and he can't control Hamas.

Hamas has now stepped up to make a bit, a broad bid ideologically and politically, to present itself as the redeemer, however long it takes, of the Palestinian national cost.

HOLMES: You can certainly argue that Israel and some ways needs Hamas, both as a visible enemy and also because, without them, there would be chaos in Gaza. Israel does not want that, either.

I did just want to touch on this real quick if you can, this intercommunal violence in Israel's mixed cities, where Jews and Arabs live together. Really unusual, very concerning, fabrics of communities inside Israel's borders being rent.

MILLER: It is the most disturbing and unique feature of this round of Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Not since the pre-state period in the '20s and '30s have Jews and Arabs witnessed this kind of communal violence, driven, in part, by Israeli under policing of Palestinian cities and towns, where crime has developed and the proliferation of weapons has increased, and, in some respects, over policing in an effort to quell these riots.

But against the broad canvas of a community that still feels itself unintegrated, discriminated against and second closes citizens, so it's head spinning in its complexity and in its poignancy.

HOLMES: Aaron David Miller, always a pleasure. Thank you so much, I appreciate the analysis.

MILLER: Michael, thank you.



HOLMES: Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Japan. But officials are insisting, the Olympic Games will go on. The torch relay, continuing on in Yamaguchi prefecture, on Friday. The same day the government added 3 more prefectures to its extended state of emergency.

The country's prime minister, promising to hold the games safely but a top Japanese CEO, telling CNN, it is a suicide mission. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HIROSHI MIKITANI, RAKUTEN CEO: It's dangerous to host the big international event from all over the world.


MIKITANI: So it is -- the risk is too big. I am against having the Olympics this year.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why do you think the government has been so forceful in this determination, that they will still go ahead, despite the public opposition, including from business leaders like yourself?

MIKITANI: I do not know.


MIKITANI: To be honest. I call it -- this a suicide mission, to be very honest. And we should stop it. I am trying to convince them but not successful so far.


HOLMES: Now despite protests and opposition from business leaders, doctors and Japanese citizens, the International Olympic Committee says that the games will begin on July 23rd, as planned. "WORLD SPORT's" Amanda Davies, speaking to World Athletics chief, Sebastian Coe, seeing how he felt about it all.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today is, officially, 10 weeks, to the day, the Olympic opening ceremony will be taking place.

How confident are you that the games will happen?

SEBASTIAN COE, WORLD ATHLETICS: I was asked that question in various variants over the time that I was in Tokyo.

The answer I gave was, look, should we have the games?

Yes, we should.

Can we have them safely and secure?

I believe we can. I am not cavalier about that.

DAVIES: So that didn't answer my question.

How confident are you that the games will kick off, as planned?


COE: Sorry, I am confident they will be taking place. Everybody is determined to do that.


HOLMES: He went on to say, some international sports federations will face a financial crisis, should the games and of being canceled.

Well, mission accomplished: China says it has just become the second country after the U.S. to successfully land a rover on Mars.


HOLMES (voice-over): The news met with plenty of emotion back at ground control, in Beijing, even drawing praise from the U.S. space agency.

An administrator from NASA tweeting, "Together, with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions that this mission will make to humanity's understanding of the Red Planet."

Chinese state media, airing this animation of what the landing on the Red Planet, on Saturday morning, may have looked like. The six wheeled solar powered vehicles, spending 3 months searching for signs of ancient life on the Martian surface.


HOLMES: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, spending part of your day with, me I am Michael Holmes. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram, at home CNN. I will be back in about 15 minutes or so, with more news. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA," starting after a short break.