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CNN NEWSROOM

The United States Pledges to Send 80 Million Doses Worldwide; Tiananmen Square Massacre: Thirty-Two Years On; President Biden Unveils Expanded List of Banned Chinese Companies; U.N. Sounds the Alarm on Strength and Dangers of Taliban; Young Australians Plead For Vaccine Access; Tokyo 2020 Board Member: The Games Have Lost Their Meaning; Hero Capitol Police Officer Who Was Injured During January 6 Insurrection Speaks Out. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired June 4, 2021 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, everyone. You are watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour, the long awaited details of how the U.S. plans to share tens of millions of excess COVID vaccine.

A pro-democracy leader arrested in Hong Kong on a day when authorities have banned large gatherings at the anniversary of the Tianenmen Square crackdown.

And for everyone demanding that Tokyo cancel the summer games, maybe try the IOC (ph) instead because the reality is they are the only ones who have the legal authority to do so.

For months, as the coronavirus outbreak surge in many countries where vaccines are in critical short supply, they've been waiting for details on how the U.S. will distribute millions of doses of excess vaccine.

Now, the U.S. president, Joe Biden, has announced positive plan. He is putting 80 million surplus doses over the next several weeks that start immediately. The White House also says it will work with partner nations and pharmaceutical companies to speed up manufacturing and production.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said, we are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more now on how the U.S. will distribute these millions of doses worldwide.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The United States has more than enough vaccine to vaccinate the entire country against COVID-19. And so, today, the White House announced how much vaccine would be given to other countries and when and where it will ship. So, let's take a look.

The plan is to send 19 million doses to COVAX. That's the international vaccine initiative. Of those, six million will go to Latin America and the Caribbean, seven million to Asia, and five million to Africa. Six million doses will be shared directly with countries in need.

Now, these doses represent a sizable chunk of the vaccines that are being produced in the United States and there are plans to make more. Let's take a listen to Jeff Zients, a White House official coordinating the COVID response.

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: These 80 million doses represent 13 percent of the total vaccines produced by the United States by the end of this month. We will continue to donate additional doses across the summer months as supply becomes available.

But at the same time, we know that won't be sufficient. So, the second part of our approach is working with U.S. vaccine manufacturers to vastly increase vaccine supply for the rest of the world in a way that also creates jobs here at home.

COHEN: Most Americans are glad that the United States is taking a leading role in distributing these vaccines. Let's take a look at results from a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Kaiser asked people living in the United States, should the U.S. play a leading or major role in distributing vaccines to other countries? Sixty-six percent said yes, 88 percent of Democrats said yes, 65 percent of independents said yes, only 41 percent of Republicans said yes.

Sharing vaccines worldwide, of course, can saves lives in other countries, but it can also save lives in the United States. Viruses, of course, they don't know borders, so when a virus starts in one country, as we've seen, it can easily go to another.

Also, variants can develop in other countries and potentially come back to the United States. And for those variants, it is possible that the vaccine might not work terribly well, so it's also in the United States best interest to be sharing this vaccine to help stop the growth of variants. Back to you.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VAUSE (on camera): Thank you, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Cohen there. Now, from the U.K., similar good intentions. Here is Britain's health secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT HANCOCK, U.K. HEALTH SECRETARY: Of course, this is absolutely something that we're looking to do as well. It's something we've been talking about here in Oxford, in England, as the G7 health ministers have been -- have been meeting to talk about how we get the whole world out of this pandemic. You know, this isn't over until it is over everywhere.

I'm standing in Oxford, the home to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. At the moment, about a half a billion doses of that vaccine have been delivered at cost, so no charge for intellectual property. And that has been a critical part of the response so far in low and middle income countries. But it is only part of it. We haven't -- we are nowhere near there yet, so there is a lot of work still to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:05:00]

VAUSE (on camera): If the world is to prevent new crippling epidemic outbreaks, new research from Duke University says at least 11 billion doses of vaccine will be needed.

The pandemic is especially dire right now in Africa with the World Health Organization regional director saying that they need as much vaccine as possible or run a risk of a devastating third wave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATSHIDISO MOETI, WHO REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF AFRICA: In sub-Saharan Africa, there is an average of one dose per hundred people compared to a global average of 23 and 62 per hundred in high income countries.

Again, with vaccinations globally, and on the African continent, it is increasing despite the best efforts of African countries because of vaccine inequity.

The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising. Vaccines are key to staving off a huge surge and keeping the most vulnerable Africans out of critical care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE (on camera): Right now, government censors in mainland China are working overtime. Our coverage of the anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown is being blocked. CNN programming, as you can see, replaced there with a message and color bars.

In Hong Kong, for the second straight year, there will be no formal vigil to mark 32 years since the crackdown. Memorial has been held after decades. But once again, authorities refused to issue a permit, citing COVID concerns.

Last year, they defied that band. They gathered anyway. But now, there is a new national security law which makes it clear Beijing will no longer tolerate any pro-democracy dissent. There are blue skies and barricades in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on this day. Back in June 4th, 1989, the world watched in horror as Chinese launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. It is believed thousands were killed.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout and Will Ripley are covering the anniversary live from Hong Kong and in Taipei. But first, we go to Kristie, who is in Victoria Park. This is the scene where traditionally there would be a candlelight vigil, but that, obviously, is not taking place, and there are reports that 3,000 police have been put on standby to enforce pandemic restrictions?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, John. In fact, I was just surrounded by a group of police in full uniform here. They're asking us to leave this location after this live shot. The police presence here in Victoria Park is indeed growing.

The reports have been brewing for a couple of days now that thousands of police will be on standby this day to take any swift action against any unauthorized assemblies, any unauthorized June 4th gatherings. And within the last 30 minutes, we've seen a significant increase in the number of police around the park. Now, for two years in a row, the police have banned the June 4th gatherings citing pandemic restrictions.

I should note that on Thursday, Hong Kong, the city of seven and a half million people, reported one new imported case of the virus. There have been large gatherings to take place in recent weeks, including the Art Basel art fair. But I want you to hear directly from the senior superintendent of Hong Kong Island on the police force talking about the reasons behind the ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIAUW KA-KEI, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT, HONG KONG ISLAND REGION: Police have reasonable grounds to believe that the activities not only increase the risk of infecting COVID-19 by participants and other people but also pose serious threats to the life and health of all citizens, jeopardizing public safety, and affecting the rights of others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT (on camera): Now, for over 30 years up until the year 2020, tens of thousands of people gathered here to remember what happened in Beijing on June 4th of 1989. Again, the vigil has been cancelled because of the coronavirus.

We received a statement from the exile pro-democracy leader, Nathan Law, about what this moment means for Hong Kong. Let's bring up the statement for you. In it, he says, the government is using the public health concerns as excuses to ban the vigil politically. It is obvious that the government even tries to criminalize the act of commemorating the event. The banning of the June 4th vigil is an example of the government eroding our freedom in a drastic way. The Hong Kong security bill (ph) has warned that anyone participating in or publicizing the June 4th vigil would be facing jail time. Again, two arrests have been made this day, including a vigil organizer, for publicizing the event.

Last year, the vigil was banned because of the coronavirus. Thousands of people turned out here to see a flickering light, just waiving those candles and their smartphones at the flickering light.

In August, 24 pro-democracy activists were arrested, among them Joshua Wong. Last month, in May, they were sentenced to an additional 10 months in prison.

There are people here in Hong Kong who are saying despite the risks and despite the ban, they plan to remember this day but in private or intimate ways, lighting a candle at home, attending a vigil at church or even lighting a cigarette in a jail cell, which is what we heard from a veteran activist. We do have police.

[02:09:59]

LU STOUT: They're waiting for us to end this live shot. We have to move to another location now. John?

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) nothing else. Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout there in Victoria Park being, I guess, helped out there by the police.

Let's go to Will Ripley in Taipei. So, Will, obviously, the situation in Victoria Park has been of -- a lot of focus over the years. But they've also mark this anniversary for many years in Taiwan.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): But it's not happening this year, John. Unlike Hong Kong where a heavy-handed police force is keeping demonstrators and people away from memorial events, here, it is heavy rain. In fact, our live location is quickly becoming waterfront property as this monsoon moves through.

But the government is expressing its support. There have been messages in the last hour from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, also a tweet from her spokesperson. I want to read you that tweet, if we have it.

It says Taiwan, more than any other country, wants to see China democratized. We want a democratic neighbor. Today, we remember those who fought and died for this. Hashtag, Tiananmen Square massacre.

Wu'er Kaixi is one of the people who stood alongside many students who died on June 4th, 1989. We spoke with him at Liberty Square about the significance of this anniversary at this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

WU'ER KAIXI, FORMER STUDENT LEADER OF TIANANMEN SQUARE PROTESTS: Being a survivor of June 4th massacre, a participant of the 1989 student movement, I certainly appreciate Hong Kong people commemorating June 4th. But then the Beijing regime, together was -- its puppet in Hong Kong said no to our challenge, to our demand for freedom and to the demand of Hong Kong people for their freedom and democracy.

RIPLEY: You said the western world lost a city.

KAIXI: Yes. We should see the world act more like free world versus the enemy of them, so if the world is to color and then Hong Kong has just changed color.

RIPLEY: How would you respond to those who might think that the protesters pushed too much, too far? That is what the pro-Beijing campuses in Hong Kong.

KAIXI: Well, they also said we did that in 1989. It's not much different from accusing a rape victim of wearing too exposed. Of course, it is the communist party to be blamed first. You cannot blame the victim.

RIPLEY: Is there any hope for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong at this point?

KAIXI: It is -- I -- there is no way of sugar coating it. It is one of the darkest times in Hong Kong's history, I believe. There is a silver lining. I see in the last two or three years, U.S. led western democracy, who enabled Chinese regime to conduct all these atrocities. It is coming around a little. I realized what they have done and then coming to a point to sinking of changing this failed China policy.

RIPLEY: You left China 32 years ago after many of your fellow students died. Now, we are sitting here at Liberty Square. Do you worry about the future of democracy here in Taiwan, given what some call Chinese military intimidation?

KAIXI: Of course, you have to worry about democracy all the time, even when living in democracy. That threat to Taiwan is military. Over thousand warheads were pointing at this island from the shore of China. People here in Taiwan breathe in and out freedom, and they know it, because they have earned it and they will defend it.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

RIPLEY (on camera): Here in Taiwan, it is the pandemic, it is monsoon rains that are keeping people from being able to gather in a large group to commemorate the anniversary. That means that this year, for the first time in more than three decades, nowhere in the Chinese- speaking world is there going to be a large, formal mass gathering to mark the Tiananmen anniversary.

But they are confident here in Taiwan, John, which will now be the only place in this part of the world where this kind of event can happen. They say it will certainly continue on next year and the year after that and the year after that, too.

VAUSE: Will Ripley, thank you. Will Ripley in Taipei. We appreciate it. Joe Biden is doubling down on Donald Trump's hard line on Beijing, extending a ban on U.S. investment in Chinese firms, which the White House say pose a threat to national security. We will go live to Beijing in a moment.

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[02:15:00]

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VAUSE (on camera): Sri Lankan officials are now facing some very difficult choices after a cargo ship packed with chemicals and loaded with oil sank just off the coast. The express peril (ph) was on fire for almost two weeks, already blamed for what officials say are the worst environmental disasters the region has seen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DHARSHAINI LAHADAPURA, SRI LANKAN MARINE PROTECTION AUTHORITY (through translator): The first option is that we can lay a boomer on the ship. We are ready with that. If that is not possible, we can drop oil dispersants from the air. We are ready with them. If the weather is not helpful and we can't use the boom or use the dispersants, then we will have to protect the coastline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE (on camera): President Biden almost doubling the number of Chinese companies that will be off limits to American investment. The White House says they pose a threat to national security because of links to China's military and surveillance capabilities. The executive order continues with the hard-line taken by President Trump back in November.

Let's go live now to Beijing. Steven Jiang is standing by with more on this. I guess the question is, at this point, how can this have any effect if it's just a U.S. ban? There's plenty other avenues of investment. What is the likely response from Beijing to all of this?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, their likely response is, again, fury, but also a threat of countermeasures, because when a foreign minister official was asked about this upcoming decision on Thursday, he said the U.S. should correct its mistakes and stop undermining global market order and investors interests and the rights and interests, but also said China will have to take necessary measures to protect Chinese companies' rights and interests, although he did not specify any measures.

A lot of analysts have pointed to possibility of American companies, including prominent global brands being added to the Chinese government, so-called unreliable entity list that would restrict or even disrupt their activities inside China.

You know, this exact order is not surprising. As you mentioned, this is a continuation and expansion of a Trump era policy. Despite the two presidents, Biden and Trump, almost never saw eye-to-eye on anything, China seems to be the lone exception here because Mr. Biden has often said he does actually does not disagree with Trump's assessment that China is a strategic rival of the U.S. and threats from Beijing need to be addressed head on.

What the two men disagreed, of course, was approach. While Mr. Trump always preferred going along (ph), Mr. Biden has said time and again the best way to confront China is forming a united front with allies and partners, especially those that share the U.S. democratic values to really address this challenge from China.

So that's why in this latest order, not only the number of targeted Chinese companies almost doubled, as you mentioned, but the scope has also been clarified and expanded because in the past, there have been Chinese companies that successfully sue the U.S. government to get off this list.

Now Mr. Biden is saying these companies on this list not only because of their alleged ties to the People's Liberation Army, but also, many of these companies, their technologies, their products have been used both inside and outside of China that contribute to the repression of ethnic and religious minorities.

[02:20:02]

JIANG: Obviously, among them are the Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang in China. So Mr. Biden is basically saying these companies are now being targeted not only because they undermine the security interests of the U.S. and its allies, but also their shared democratic values. John?

VAUSE (on camera): Steven, thank you. Steven Jiang live for us in Beijing.

A dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, appeared on Belarusian state TV on Thursday in an interview which his supporters say was given under duress during which he apparently confessed organizing large scale anti-government protests last year.

He broke down crying, saying he never wants to get involved in politics again. The activist and his girlfriend were arrested after their flight was diverted to Minsk last week. Protasevich has been something of a regular on state TV since then. His father says it's painful to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMITRY PROTASEVICH, FATHER OF ROMAN PROTASEVICH (through translator): This is nothing more than another attempt to torture my son. I don't see it any differently. No one should believe these words because they were cursed (ph) as result of abuse and torture of my son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE (on camera): Well, after the arrest, the European Union called for all E.U.-based airlines to avoid flying over Belarus, effectively cutting their ties to the country.

A U.N. report warning that despite what Taliban leaders may have said or promised publicly, the Islamic fundamentalists who once ruled Afghanistan and gave safe haven to the terrorists behind 9/11, remained a threat.

(INAUDIBLE) Council Assessment (ph) also raised concerns about a fragile national Afghan army as well as threats to women, academics, and journalists. The U.S. says it is monitoring the situation closely.

CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson has more. But first, a warning, his report contains some disturbing images.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Key points include 2020, the most violent year ever with assassinations of 28 percent. 2021, attacks up 61 percent on the same period last year. And the Taliban's intent appears to be to continue to strengthen its military position, all the while, apparently, lying to the U.S.

The report saying the Taliban and al-Qaeda remained closely aligned and shows no sign of breaking ties. This is despite signing an agreement with the U.S. in February last year vowing to cut those connections.

Other points of concern in the report include Afghan troop strength, approximately 308,000 personnel, well below its target strength of 352,000 where recruitment has continued to decline.

Meanwhile, the U.N.'s member states write the Taliban now contests or controls 50 to 70 percent of Afghan territory outside urban centers and exert direct control over 57 percent of district administrative centers. Taliban troop strength estimated at approximately 58,000 to 100,000.

The report cites another disturbing development. Women, intellectuals, religious scholars, and journalists have become increasing targets of Islamist groups. Eighty-five percent of those executions were assessed to be by the Taliban.

The report also assesses the Taliban have significant income, estimated from 300 million to 1.6 billion from opium production, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and mineral exploitation, including control of 280 mining zones, only one less than the government.

Another detail in the report underscores how little has changed during America's longest war. The son of the Taliban's founding leader and commander joined the 9/11 attacks is rising high in its ranks, and the U.N. says is reported to harbor ambitions to become the group's leader.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE) VAUSE (on camera): Afghan Army General Sami Sadat tells CNN he is optimistic about the future and believes the Taliban has underestimated both the discipline and the morale of his troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMI SADAT, COMMANDING GENERAL, AFGHAN ARMY 215 MAIWAND CORPS: I am not worried. In contrary, I see this as an opportunity for Afghan forces to stand up to the day and defeat the Taliban. It may take some time, but defeating Taliban is inevitable for two purposes. The first purpose is the cause in which the Taliban are fighting. As the U.S. troops withdraw, it will be increasingly difficult for the Taliban to recruit in the villages of Afghanistan in the name of Jihad, for the very purpose of Jihad will vanish with it.

[02:25:05]

SADAT: However, you know, the Taliban being a destructive force still have the capacity to create violence across the country. They've tried very hard from the beginning of May and until now storming 10 provinces of Afghanistan, trying to overtake some poor cities like the city of Lashkar Gah, Ghazni, (INAUDIBLE), Ghurmach, and Kunduz (ph) in the north.

But they failed in all those fronts and lost a lot of men. Now, in the last few days, we've seen increased in attacks into the main population areas and it is -- that goes that the Taliban were underestimating the Afghan military as they were preparing for these major assaults.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE (on camera): There is also a formal response from the Taliban to that U.N. report in a statement, saying, the assessment is based on misinformation and insisting the group has acted in accordance with the DOHA agreement, which was signed in February last year.

Nicaragua presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro is under house arrest, putting her presidential bid into question. She has been charged with money laundering related to a non-profit she chairs, allegations she has denied. Opposition leader was likely the only candidate to challenge President Daniel Ortega who is seeking a fourth term.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the arrest, saying it reflects Ortega's fear of free and fair elections. The vote is still five months away.

Coming up next, a problem facing mostly wealthy countries, when those eligible to be vaccinated just don't show up. What should be done with those unused doses? Throw them out? Give them away? How millennials in Australia are turning up all Gen X and the boomers.

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VAUSE (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." For the world's wealthiest nations, cornering the market on COVID vaccines brings a luxury of not just deciding when but also if they will be vaccinated.

So far, Australia's nationwide vaccination program has barely made a dent since starting in February. Just over two percent of the population have received both shots. Only in recent weeks has the rollout been gaining some traction.

Keep in mind, Australia was spared the worst of the pandemic and the conservative government there has actively encouraged a slow vaccine uptake by repeatedly saying it's a marathon, not a sprint.

But here is the problem facing not just Australia but other wealthy nations as well. What happens when those eligible for vaccinations just don't show?

Here is Angus Watson with more from Sydney.

[02:29:59]

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Like many places around the world, Australia has prioritized older and vulnerable people in the early stages of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The problem? The rollout has never quite got past those early stages.

Very few Australians, under the age of 40, are eligible to get a shot. And fewer than 1 million people in this country have had two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine. The problem is both a supply issue and a hesitancy issue.

Australia bet big on the AstraZeneca vaccine. It's the only COVID-19 vaccine that's being produced locally.

But earlier this year, Australia's drug regulators determined that that should be only given to people over the age of 50, due to the rare chance of people developing blood clots, after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

People under the age of 50 told to wait till later in the year, till more Pfizer shots become available. There's a shortage of those in Australia at the moment.

The problem is that older people are saying they want to wait too, towards the end of the year, to get a vaccine that they see is superior to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which they worry about potential side effects of.

Meanwhile, Millennials, particularly, are saying they would happily get the AstraZeneca vaccine, if it diminished the chances of a lockdown, like the one that we're seeing in Victoria right now. The state government there is saying that this lockdown may not have had to happen, if the Australian Government was quicker with its vaccine rollout. Just over 30,000 Australians have caught COVID-19, since the beginning of the pandemic, and there are wide places around Australia, where there are very few restrictions, and very few cases.

But borders remain closed. Very few people are allowed into the country. In fact, 35,000 Australians, or more, around the world, want to come back into the country, but can't. Meanwhile Australians here have to apply to the government to leave. A change in those circumstances depends on the vaccine rollout that the government says it's not a race. Many here disagree.

Angus Watson, CNN, Sydney, Australia.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, unlike her older fellow Australians, 36- year-old Sarah Moran managed to get vaccinated despite not being eligible. She's now campaigning for excess vaccine capacity to be made available to anyone who wants it.

Just a short time ago, she told me how she managed to sweet-talk her way to vaccination.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH MORAN, CEO, GIRL GEEK ACADEMY: I had to beg. I turned up, and there were empty queues. And I was like, "Hey, you know, maybe you would like to jab my arm today." And I was very, very grateful that the person said, "Yes."

Since starting my campaign, I've heard a variety of different reports, around Australia, from some people who have been able to get the vaccine.

One of the main things is that some of the vaccines are almost expired, and some lucky, Gen Ys and Gen Zs have stepped up to take it before it gets thrown out. So that's been good to see for sure.

VAUSE: What about those who say, "Listen, you are a 36-year-old white woman, presumably with no pre-existing conditions. You're in pretty good health. Your chances of dying from COVID are minuscule. High-risk eligible Australians, if they don't want the vaccine, then give their allocation to a country, where there is a real desperate need, and do them first." What's the response?

MORAN: Absolutely. I mean, we also need to do a better job of vaccinating those in aged care, making sure those now regions are getting vaccinated. But it's not an either/or situation. It's all hands on deck to vaccinate the world at the moment.

And I - there are vaccines that are here. And they're being produced here. They're ready to be rolled out. They do have expiry dates. So, there's definitely capacity to get them in our arms before that date happens, which, if we were to transport some of those overseas, the ones that are towards the expiry date, we wouldn't time anyway.

But I think it's all hands on deck. Let's go all out. This is a race. As much as we've heard it's not a race, I can tell you now it is. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, surging infections fears that the Olympics will be a super-spreader event, even reports that maybe there'll be an Olympic variant. Well none of that is enough for Tokyo 2020 organizers to call it all off. The size of the bill though, if they were to cancel, might be. That's next.

[02:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: There it is, the clock, literally ticking down to the Tokyo Olympics. 49 days, 4 hours, 23 minutes 50 seconds, before the curtain goes up, on the summer games. They were postponed last year, because of the pandemic. And now, they start July 23rd.

We are expecting the organizers to hold a news conference sometime today. It's the regular news conference. If there is news from that, we'll bring it to you.

But as far as they're concerned, there seems nothing which will stop these games from moving forward. That's even though vaccination rates in Japan remain stubbornly low, and nine regions as well as Tokyo are under a state of emergency.

Opinion polls show most of Japan want the games canceled. Japan's senior medical advisor says hosting the games is "Not normal."

And now this, a Japanese Olympic Committee Board member saying, "The games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel. We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not." And that is so true!

Many are worried that hosting the games will come at a cost of lives. But organizers may be looking at another cost, one that's counted in the billions of dollars.

Here's CNN's Anna Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): After years of preparation, Tokyo 2020 is just weeks away, a year late due to the pandemic. Organizers say the event will now cost $15.4 billion. Some estimates suggest it'll cost much more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cancel the Tokyo Olympics.

STEWART (voice-over): Opinion polls in Japan suggest a majority of the public want it canceled.

STEWART (on camera): Japan has already banned overseas spectators, which the Nomura Research Institute estimates will cost the country over $1 billion in lost revenue.

Canceling the games, it says, would cost more than $16 billion, but the think tank warns that these costs actually pale in comparison to the economic damage another wave of Coronavirus could cause.

STEWART (voice-over): The IOC says its priority is to hold games that it's safe and secure. And while pressure mounts for Japan to cancel the games, contractually, it can't.

ALEXANDRE MIGUEL MESTRE, SPORTS LAW ATTORNEY, ABREU ADVOGADOS: In practice, the single entity that can cancel the games is the IOC, International Olympic Committee. Because, according to the Olympic Charter, the IOC has an exclusive property of the games.

STEWART (on camera): So, this means that actually Japan can't unilaterally decide to cancel the Olympic Games?

MESTRE: If Japan, if the Organizing Committee, if the - if Tokyo decides not to go on, on their obligations, under the Host City Contract, of course, it will be not possible to undertake the games. And in that condition, of course, the IOC will be entitled to sue those core parties, in the Host City Contract.

STEWART (voice-over): The IOC has insurance for games cancellation and abandonment, which could cover part of its operational cost. But what about its partners, the sponsors and the broadcasters?

PATRICK VAJDA, PRESIDENT, XAW SPORTS: The main one in terms of money is the TV rights. The different contracts now are so complicated.

20 years ago, it was very easy to answer to your question. Today, it's more or less impossible because the different TV networks bought not only one games, but several. Generally speaking three online, sometimes four.

We have to take each contract one by one and to analyze what is written in the contract. Sometimes, it is written something about the cancellation, they have to reimburse, they have not. It depends on the contract and it is a pure contractual agreement between two private companies.

STEWART (voice-over): Billions of dollars, lawsuits and insurance claims are at stake, if the games are canceled.

[02:40:00]

If they go ahead, the IOC risks breaching its own Charter, which says it will promote safe sport, and protect athletes, who are already beginning to arrive in Japan. The ultimate cost could be borne by those at risk from COVID-19, if Tokyo 2020 becomes a super-spreader event.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: A short time ago, I spoke to Ed Hula, Founder of "Around the Rings," what many consider the go-to source for Olympic news. Here's what he said would have to happen for the games to be canceled.

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ED HULA, FOUNDER, AROUND THE RINGS: The IOC believes what it's doing, to keep everybody in a bubble, is going to protect Japan from subsequent infections. But that's, you know, it's a roll of the dice.

It's a big risk. And it's going to come to a government. The city government, maybe, the national government would have to say, "No Olympics. We can't do it." But I don't think it will happen unless there is a substantial rise in the number of infections, unless there's a significant increase in the number of deaths.

The state of emergency right now lasts until June 20th. And everybody's just kind of holding their breath, to see what happens.

VAUSE: The University of Oxford took a close look at the overall cost run for hosting cities. This is over a period of time. And found the average overrun all out was more than 200 percent, many times greater than what the IOC tells bidding cities.

Now here's part of that report. "Either the IOC is deluded about the real cost-risks when it insists that a 9.1 percent contingency is sufficient, or the Committee deliberately overlooks the uncomfortable facts. In either case, host cities and nations are misled."

The IOC created a sort of a no-lose scenario for itself. It encourages bigger, more spectacular bids to increase revenue, which it then takes the lion's share of that. All the costs, all the risk is with the Host City.

So answer me this, at what cost would that agreement actually be enforced? You've said, you know, the Tokyo could say "Enough. They're going to walk away from this." Where would the IOC actually seek damages for that?

HULA: They might go to court in Japan. But I don't think it would come to that because it would lead to some really bad blood between the IOC and Japan, one of the most important nations for the Olympic movement. And the IOC doesn't want that.

The IOC has bought cancellation insurance. As I've said, it's worth $500 million, $600 million, $700 million, or so, just a fraction of what the IOC would expect to receive in revenue, from the Tokyo Olympics. That I think is about the best that they can do.

The IOC is perhaps worried about being sued by some of its sponsors, if they cancel the games. Maybe the broadcasters might enter into some sort of suit against the IOC. That's a possibility, if the worst happens. If the worst happens, I think we're going to see everybody trying to cover their bets with calling out the lawyers.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Well, living on the edge, in Central Mexico, the edge being a massive sinkhole which appeared, on a family's backyard, on Saturday, initially five meters wide. Six days later, the hole has grown to at least 60 meters across, 20 meters deep. Naturally, the family's been forced to leave.

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

"WORLD SPORT" is up next. Have a good weekend.

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