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Families Hold Onto Hope After Florida Building Collapse; Fifth Body Found In Champlain Towers Wreckage; Thousands In U.K. Protest Lockdown, Austerity And Climate Inaction; Indonesia Grapples With Vaccine Hesitancy; Inside Myanmar's "Rooms Of Hell"; Athletes In Exile Demand IOC Take Action On Iran; U.S. Intelligence Inconclusive On UFOs; Historic Paris Department Store Reopens After 16 Years. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 27, 2021 - 00:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Hope dwindling, frustration growing and families pleading for answers. We are now learning about concerns raised years before that condo in Miami collapsed.



NATHAN MAUNG, U.S. CITIZEN (from captions): Sometimes, I dream I really want to go back to prison because my body is here but my mind is with my friends, my journalists, my country.

NEWTON (voice-over): We speak to a U.S. citizen who said he was tortured by the military junta in Myanmar. His crime, he says, being a journalist. It is a CNN exclusive.


NEWTON (voice-over): And later, out of this world, what a U.S. government report says about UFOs, stopping short of ruling out aliens.


NEWTON: For a third day we begin in Surfside, Florida, where search and rescue operations are growing more aggressive hour by hour, after another body was found in the wreckage of that 12-story building collapse.


NEWTON (voice-over): This is what is left of Champlain Towers, those condominiums, after part of the structure came crashing down in a matter of seconds Thursday. Right now, the death toll stands at 5 and the whereabouts of 156 others are still unknown.

The mayor of the Miami-Dade County updated on the search Saturday evening.



MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: Our teams have been working around the clock as always to search for survivors, they have not stopped.

And today, our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble. And as well, our search has revealed some human remains.


NEWTON: Tough news for so many there.

The mayor also announced the county will immediately begin an investigation of all buildings that are 40 years and older.

Meantime, the urgent search for survivors was hampered by a fire inside the building. Officials say crews built a trench to isolate the blaze and they have now contained the fire.

We have also learned that major structural problem were flagged back in 2018 and that's led to concerns about the nearby North Tower and just how safe it is at this hour. The mayor is recommending residents there to evacuate out of an abundance of caution.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT (I-FL), SURFSIDE: It has the same name, had the same developer. It probably had the same materials. It probably had the same plans. And people are asking me, is the building safe? And I can't tell them it is safe. I can't tell them that.


NEWTON: Meantime, a memorial for the scores of people still unaccounted for stands about a block away from the collapse. With each passing hour, it grows full of more pictures, mementos, flowers, their families clinging to the hope that their loved will be found alive.

But 72 hours now after the collapse. some people are losing patience with search and rescue efforts. Let's listen to this mother, pleading for answers from Florida officials.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a mother. I don't know the best way to go about this. But it's impossible that, in four days, nobody has emerged dead or alive. Please don't tell me about the two people, I know about it. It's not enough. Imagine if your children were in there. You're going to leave here and you're going to take a nice picture. And I know you're doing everything you can but it's not enough.

You gave us a promise and you're not fulfilling it and you can fulfill it.

Red tape is not important when my daughter is dying.


NEWTON: You can hear the agony in her voice. And many others are trying to stay hopeful, assured that their loved ones will be found alive.


ADRIANA LAFONT, EX-WIFE OF MISSING MAN: I'm sure they're doing their best. I don't have any doubt. I understand people who -- it's a very hard situation there. It feels hopeless at the time.


LAFONT: But I have my faith, it's as strong as every day. And I have a feeling Manny (ph) is alive.


NEWTON: Officials are relying on DNA samples to help identify victims.

Rafael Romo joins me now from Miami.

And it has been, unfortunately, quite another dispiriting day.

What is going on now, especially as we've heard that at least they have been able to extinguish the fire?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: It is one more night of waiting, Paula. And you think about the families who are still waiting for an answer to find out what happened to their loved ones.

There was a development a few hours ago, the mayor of Miami-Dade said that they can confirm that 5 people have died, their identities have been sent to their families. And the reality is, you can get this idea that people are just hoping for the best.

But they are really expecting the worst. I had the opportunity to talk to a man, who is waiting to hear news from his mother and grandmother. He was telling me that the last time he spoke to his mother was Wednesday night.

You get this idea that this happened all of a sudden, that there were no previous warnings. And what he was telling me was that, even the night before his mother cannot sleep because she was hearing all kinds of weird noises. Then there is that report from 2018, an inspection conducted back

then, that indicated that there were cracks in the concrete and different things that had to be taken care of right away.

So the stories begin to surface, painting a picture of a property, a building, a residential building, that had issues for years that explained what happened here, Paula.

NEWTON: And again, you can't even imagine how infuriated the family must be, just hearing this and, at the same time, they are just still hoping that some of their loved ones will really be safe, be rescued and that this will not turn into a recovery mission.

We heard that authorities went to the community center there, where they were all gathered. We heard that this was contentious.

ROMO: A lot of people feel like authorities have not done as much as they should've done and that they haven't moved fast enough. Authorities are saying that this is a very complicated scene because they have to remove debris in many portions, hand by hand so as to not compromise the possibility that survivors that may still be trapped under the rubble be put in jeopardy once again.

The other story that is beginning to surface here, Paula, is people who live in the surrounding buildings, they are now afraid that some of the same issues that led to the collapse of this building may be found in their own buildings.

So they coming to us even, asking us whether it is safe to remain in the buildings. Of course, we say we don't know that, that authorities are the ones to determine that. We spoke to authorities earlier but they said at this point any evacuation is going to be voluntary. They are not telling residents they have to leave right away.

But definitely there has to be an expectation, also in the building right next door, that was built by the same company in very the same year. so a lot of unanswered questions here, Paula.

NEWTON: Can you imagine how chilling it is for people in that building, in the surrounding buildings, to go to sleep on this evening?

Rafael Romo, thank you so much for being with us, appreciate it.

A 2018 field survey that we were talking about is now raising questions about the structural integrity of the building. Now the report revealed alarming concerns about the concrete below the pool deck specifically and in the parking garage.

Part of it reads, "Abundant cracking and spalling of various degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls. Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion."

We have to note that spalling is a term used for concrete that has cracked or crumbled. The firm behind the report released the statement confirming these details, saying that an estimate was provided to make extensive and necessary repairs.

For more of this, I am joined by John Butler, he is the fire chief for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia.

Thank you for being with us. This is what you guys do, you really have expertise in this area. Even though I know you're not on the ground right now, you have seen this kind of thing before.


NEWTON: Just to address the frustration of the families, first off, understandably, they are frustrated.

What would you say to them about the task at hand and how difficult and complicated it is right now, especially when you're trying to save lives and not risk more lives to do it?

JOHN BUTLER, FIRE CHIEF, FAIRFAX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT: Paula, thank you for having me. And you're making a really good point. You have to start with empathizing and sympathizing with the families who are going through a lot of anxiety and being unsettled and in some cases grieving.

Technical rescue in the collapse zone such as this is -- understated to say it's complex. You're dealing with fires of unknown origin, it seems to be under control right now. But there are secondary collapses or potentially disrupting void spaces where there could be life still worth saving.

So the complexities are so much and conveying this repeatedly to the families is imperative -- and to the community. We have to keep expressing the complexities of the operations such as this without ever giving up hope at this point.

NEWTON: And we have to say they have not had any luck with the weather at all.

How important do you think it is that at least this fire has been contained or extinguished even?

BUTLER: That is one hazard, one risk that has been somewhat abated. Like I said, there are so many things, the weather, the work/rest cycles for the responders. And as incident commanders and fire chiefs and sponsoring agency chiefs for technical rescue teams, we have to continuously look out for the safety and the wellness of those who are responding and trying to make rescues.

NEWTON: Yes, absolutely, you do. I've been shoulder to shoulder with your crew in disasters and I've seen that work firsthand. You are indefatigable and even you're saying the conditions there in Miami right now are the most difficult that many of these people have seen.


NEWTON: How troubling is it for you to hear about that structural damage -- not suggesting that you know what's going on on the ground -- but when you hear something like that, how troubling is it?

BUTLER: There is so much yet to be understood and researched and validated. Like you said, not being on the scene or not having intimate knowledge of what is going on, I'd be stretching it to make an assessment or an observation.

Concrete is one of the strongest materials we have for structures as we know. But it is also, once it is compromised, kind of the entire integrity of the structure comes down. But we know very little right now. I know very little right now not being there; I'm here in Virginia.

NEWTON: What are the chances now, though, given that the fire is contained, given your experience in this kind of work, that the search and rescue teams will have some kind of a breakthrough in the next 24 to 48 hours?

They have been on the scene for quite a while and working around the clock and perhaps given themselves enough opportunity to go deeper into the rubble right now.

BUTLER: The teams in Florida are top-notch. They are top teams, like type 1, type 2 and type 3 teams, very strong and have very good equipment. As we generally know now, they used a lot of optics and listening devices.

With the fire under control, they can employ various techniques and equipment. It's -- sometimes the work is very slow and methodical and to some extent tedious. But the utility of machinery sometimes can be a hazard or a distracter. There is a vibration and lose the sense of hearing, picking up sounds of life.

So the complexities just continue to be there. With the fires under control and the amount of teams that have (INAUDIBLE) doing some strong work, it is not to be understated. It is not fast work in some cases and I don't think I'm speaking out of school to say time matters in these cases, we're coming up on 3 or 4 days now.

NEWTON: Yes and certainly the families feel that and quite frankly the officials on the ground, people on top of that rubble pile, feel that as well. Fairfax County fire chief John Butler, I really appreciate your expertise on this.

BUTLER: Thank you for having me.


NEWTON: As crews continue their search, the families of the missing are facing agonizing uncertainty and praying, of course, as we all would for a miracle. CNN spoke with the children of Julie Spiegel, one of the 156 people still unaccounted for.


RACHEL SPIEGEL, DAUGHTER OF MISSING WOMAN: My mom is just the best person in the world. She is so caring and loving. She, like, loves my kids. And obviously, I'm dealing with my own stuff but I also have to worry about my daughter.

I have two daughters, but one's too little to really know and understand. The picture that we just saw was Scarlett with my mom.

But my daughter keeps asking. We told her last night that my mom is missing and we can't find her.

And she told me that, "Well, she's really good at playing hide-and- seek, so she's probably hiding in her house.

"Can I go with there with you?

"I know where she hides."

And I said, we have a lot of people helping. We told her that I've been on the news. We're doing everything that we can.

But my husband told me that, she asked again today, "Have they found Grandma? Has Mommy found Grandma?"

JOSH SPIEGEL, SON OF MISSING WOMAN: I'm scared to death. I just want my mom back.

R. SPIEGEL: I know.

J. SPIEGEL: And we're praying as much as possible. We just want more people to help. So if there's anyone else that can help, that's all that we want. We love my mom. She's the most amazing person in the world. And we would literally do anything, because we know that she would do anything for us.

R. SPIEGEL: My dad was in town for Father's Day. Josh's birthday was Father's Day. We were all celebrating and happy. And my dad left Monday morning. And they were supposed to go to New York. They have this trip coming up. It's days away.

Like, I don't really understand it. Like, my heart breaks for my dad, but at the same time, I'm just so thankful that he wasn't there, too, because, obviously, the thought of losing my mom, who's my rock and my best friend and everything, is the most awful thing. But I don't really know if I would be standing if I lost the two.


NEWTON: That is just a small measure of the grief people are coping with on the ground there. Now the impact of the tragedy as we've been telling you extends far beyond South Florida. Many of those unaccounted for are from Latin American countries.

Family members outside the U.S. are watching the situation unfold from afar. CNN's Matt Rivers reports from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so many American families are awaiting news, any sort of word on the fate of their loved ones as a result of this partial collapse.

So, too, are dozens of Latin American families whose loved ones are among those that are missing. Remember there are multiple South American countries that have citizens that are among the dozens and dozens of people that remain unaccounted for at this point.

We've done some reporting over the last several days, talking to different family members from some of those South American countries. And the consistent theme we hear is that, among the worst of all of this is just the lack of information, the lack of any sort of news on the fates of their missing family members.

We know this is an international response. Both Israel and Mexico saying that they have sent workers, rescue workers, to try and help with the international effort, with the search and rescue effort that is currently underway in South Florida.

We also know the U.S. government, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's office trying to expedite visas for the foreign nationals who have family members who are among those missing at this juncture.

I tried to get family members the ability to even come to South Florida and be their present as these rescue efforts continue but, unfortunately, we know that the more time goes by, as each hour ticks by, the chances of finding people alive in that debris continues to go down -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


NEWTON: Still ahead here for us on CNN NEWSROOM, as Indonesia grapples with a devastating new wave of the pandemic, vaccination rates are stalling out. The unique way officials are trying to overcome that.

Coming up, a new coronavirus variant is crossing borders and scientists are racing to find answers.






NEWTON (voice-over): Thousands marched through the streets of London Saturday in protest of the COVID lockdown as well as austerity measures. They're also calling for the government to step up the fight against climate change.

A lot of COVID restrictions have had to stay in place in the U.K. because of the spread of the Delta variant.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: Now in the meantime the U.K.'s health minister is calling it quits after causing a scandal for breaking social distancing rules. Matt Hancock was caught kissing an aide in photos published by "The Sun."

The British tabloid says they're having an affair and that the images are from May -- this is key here -- before cross-household contact was allowed. The politician put out an apology before, explaining why he had to step down.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, that you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them. And that is why I have got to resign.


NEWTON: Downing Street says former chancellor and home secretary Sajid Javid is replacing Matt Hancock as health secretary.

Now a COVID outbreak in Sydney, Australia, area is just getting bigger. Authorities reported 30 new cases in the famous Bondi Beach neighborhood on Sunday, bringing the cluster now to a total of 110.

Now a two-week stay-at-home order was imposed in greater Sydney on Saturday along with increased social distancing rules in the rest of New South Wales. The outbreak has triggered a 3-day suspension of quarantine free travel between New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand health officials say that the decision was made because Australian COVID outbreaks in, quote, "differing stages of containment."

To Indonesia now, battling a devastating new wave of the pandemic. On Saturday the country's daily case count hit a new record high. Still leaders are facing an uphill battle when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus. CNN's Kim Brunhuber has more.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protests broke out in Jakarta Thursday after an Islamic cleric was charged with spreading false information. Prosecutors said he claimed to be healthy, despite having tested positive for COVID-19 and that he attended mass gatherings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The court sentenced him to 4 years in jail. He says he will contest.

Earlier the court had sentenced him to 8 months in jail for violating health protocols at other mass events. Large gatherings are one of many reasons Indonesia is going through a

coronavirus surge. On Monday, Indonesia passed the mark of 2 million reported COVID-19 infections. Daily case counts are at an all-time high. Deaths as well up near record levels.

Among the factors behind the increasing number of tombstones, a slow vaccine rollout, vaccine hesitancy, low testing levels, the fast spreading Delta variant and pandemic fatigue.

Only 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and in this mainly Muslim nation, questions persist over the potential use of pork products, such as gelatin, which have been using vaccines in the past. Most of major vaccinemakers have confirmed they don't use any animal content but the worry persists.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was initially afraid that, if I was forced to be vaccinated, it would result in my own death. That was the main reason I was afraid. And I was also worried that this vaccine contained pork.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): As an incentive, officials in one town are now offering seniors live chickens for each shot.

Also taking its toll, the new highly contagious Delta variant. As authorities scramble to find medical emergency units to treat people, tents have sprung up outside hospitals in West Java to create more room for COVID-19 patients. Last week a World Health Organization official cautioned about the grip of the variant on some parts of the country.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There's been quite a steep surge in cases over the last few weeks. And within that, the Delta variant is now becoming a more prominent, more dominant in certain parts of Jakarta and other parts of Java.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Another worry, concerns about the efficacy of some of the Chinese-made vaccines. Officials say more than 350 doctors and medical workers in Indonesia have been infected despite being vaccinated with Sinovac.

Dozens have been hospitalized, some have died. Looking for a solution, some wealthier Indonesians are packing their bags to fly to different countries, including the United States, in the hopes of a free immunization shot -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


NEWTON: Yet another coronavirus variant is causing alarm now. This one is a slightly changed version of the Delta variant called Delta plus. There have been about 200 cases found in 11 countries so far. Scientists are trying to figure out how well the current batch of vaccines will work against it. Salma Abdelaziz has more.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Delhi's colorful markets are alive again. India has survived the world's worst outbreak of COVID-19, helped along by the highly transmissible Delta variant. For now the surge is under control but medical experts warn the threat is far from over.

India's health ministry is also concerned about a new variant termed the Delta plus and say it shows increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and a potential reduction in antibody response. Some Indian healthcare experts are sounding the alarm.

DR. SANDEEP BUDHIRAJA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MAX HEALTHCARE: If a potential mutation happens, it will again be explosive can be more explosive or can be less explosive but it will lead to a clear wave.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The Delta plus variant was detected in three Indian states. But most cases are reported outside the country official said. From Japan to Poland to Portugal to Switzerland, the new variant is popping up across the globe. The United States and the U.K. appear to be the most effective with dozens of cases already.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But Dr. Ravi Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said the impact on spread is limited.

GUPTA: It does, you know, in some people help the virus to get around our immune defenses. But it only does that to a small degree and in some people. So that's why it has to be taken in context.

ABDELAZIZ: Should we be concerned about vaccine efficacy when it comes to this plus variant?

GUPTA: No, I think the Delta is not to worry about in terms of vaccine efficacy.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Even without that one additional mutation the Delta variant is a formidable enemy. The whole situation the World Health Organization said the strain is set to become the most dominant one globally and the U.S. is braced for impact.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The British government delayed the easing of restrictions largely due to the variant. As tourism season begins, Europe is watching nervously. E.U. modeling forecasts the Delta variant will make up 90 percent of infections in the bloc by the end of August. But as the virus morphs and mutates, experts say the best defense against it remains the same: vaccination -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


NEWTON: An American citizen is giving his first interview since being released from prison in Myanmar.


MAUNG (from captions): I want the world to know please don't deal with the terrorists. Please support the people to fight for their freedom.

NEWTON (voice-over): He's just one of many journalists who've been arrested since the coup. We will have that for you next.






NEWTON: Welcome back, thank you for your company. I am Paula Newton and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Nathan Maung, a U.S. citizen, is speaking up for the first time since he was released from a prison in Myanmar. He told CNN that he was tortured by the military junta in a facility known as the rooms of hell. He says he is now fighting for the release of other journalists who, like him, were arrested. CNN's Anna Coren has that interview for us.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dwarfed by elm trees on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., Nathan Maung takes in his new surroundings, a world away from the hell where he has been.

Just last week, the 44-year old journalist arrived on American soil. The U.S. State Department securing his release after more than three months behind bars in Myanmar

MAUNG (from captions): Sometimes, I dream I really want to go back to prison because my body is here but my mind is with my friends, my journalists, my country.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan, a U.S. citizen who lives in Myanmar and cofounded Cameat (ph) Media, was arrested with his producer, Hanthar Nyein, back in March a month after the military junta staged a coup.

Nathan says dozens of police raided their office. Several hours later, they were blindfolded and taken to an interrogation center housed within this military compound on the outskirts of Yangon. That's when the real terror began.

COREN: How did the treatment begin?

MAUNG (from captions): They started putting the blindfold and handcuffs and started questioning and hit our face and head and shoulder all the time for every our answers.

They kicked us, they beat us for like three days, nonstop.

COREN (voice-over): On the fourth day, Nathan says the soldiers realized he was a U.S. citizen and stopped the beatings. But for 39 year old Hanthar, it only intensified. They bashed him, burned his skin with cigarettes and then, as a way to get his password to access his phone, Nathan says they threatened to rape him.

MAUNG (from captions): And was crying, oh, no, no, no, please don't, please don't. I will give you my passport.

COREN (voice-over): And this is what the soldiers found, a photo of Hanthar with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The torture lasted for 15 days, the screaming and crying Nathan heard from other prisoners haunting him.

Soldiers then moved them to the notorious Insein prison, home to about 10,000 prisoners.

MAUNG: I believe I wasn't here, I was in (INAUDIBLE).

COREN (voice-over): Nathan and Hanthar were separated and held in solitary confinement in cells 8 by 12 feet.

MAUNG: I was in cell number 9 and he was in cell number 12.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan heard that fellow American journalist, Danny Fenster, was also held at Insein prison but he did not see him.


COREN (voice-over): On the 14th of June, charges of spreading misinformation were dropped and Nathan was released.

MAUNG: Yes, me and Hanthar.

COREN (voice-over): But his dear friend, Hanthar, a Burmese national, remains behind bars.

MAUNG (from captions): I said, "See you, buddy. We will be back together outside. We'll work together. I will be waiting for you."

Yes, yes. We'll be together, someday.

COREN (voice-over): For Hanthar's family, it has been agony, the military refusing any access to him. KYI THAR, HANTHAR NYEIN'S SISTER (through translator): As a sister, I

just want to hug him tight. I miss him so much. I'm so worried he will not be released and have to stay inside.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan says the junta see the people as the enemy and is pleading with the international community to stand up against this brutal regime.

The junta says it is using restraint against what it calls riotous protesters.

MAUNG (from captions): I want the world to know, please don't deal with the terrorists. Please support the people, to fight for their freedom.

COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


NEWTON: Update here: a U.S. journalist, Danny Fenster, you heard about in that report, was charged under the newly adopted fake news law and is due to appear in court on July 1st. His family still has not had any contact with him and are appealing to the U.S. government to secure their son's release.

Washington says it has not been granted access to him by Myanmar officials.

Italy is going through to the quarterfinals of the Euro 2020. When we come back, the unbelievable run the football team is having and what it means going forward -- ahead.

Plus an Iranian wrestler was executed after taking part in anti- government rallies. Now Iranian athletes in exile demand action against Tehran by the International Olympic Committee.




NEWTON: The first stage of the Tour de France took off -- look at that.


NEWTON (voice-over): That's incredible. That's what happened on Saturday. But it ended with those massive crashes. You are looking at the first one right there, when German cyclist Tony Martin collided into a fan, who was holding a large sign.

That caused a number of other riders to fall like dominoes. Jasha Sutterlin of Team DSM was also forced to pull out with an injury.

The second pile happened to closer to the finish line. It involved 4- time champion Chris Froome and dozens of other competitors. At the end, cyclist Julien Alaphilippe won the first stage.



NEWTON: The Tokyo Olympics are just 26 days away and organizers say they are enforcing strict measures to minimize the threat from coronavirus. The Tokyo Olympic Committee president says holding the games without any spectators remains an option.

Meantime, the torch is winding through Yamanashi Prefecture and will visit Mount Fuji on Sunday. The flame will travel through five more prefectures until it reaches Tokyo.

The Olympics are supposed to be an apolitical event with athletes free to compete without facing discrimination but some Iranian athletes in exile say that's now how it plays out.

They want the International Olympic Committee to ban Iran from participating in the games. CNN "WORLD SPORT's" Don Riddell asks them why.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The International Olympic Committee is proud of its Olympic charter which states that sports should be free and fair for all. But athletes from Iran say, that is not the case for them.


SARDAR PASHAE, FORMER Iranian WRESTLER: We had a simple question, can IOC member states torture and arrest athletes and violate the charter?

Are you doing anything to protect this athlete?

Because their rights have been discriminated every single day.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Back in 1998, Sardar Pashae was a junior world champion wrestler. He also coached the national team in Iran but constant interference from the government forced him to flee his country. He now lives in the United States.

The charter calls for a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. But many Iranian athletes say that they have been forced to lose matches or pull out of competitions because of the unwritten rule that states no athlete can share the stage with an athlete from Israel.

MAHDI JAFARGHOLIZADEH, FORMER ASIAN KARATE CHAMPION: There is somebody from Israel and we're not allowed to compete with them.

But why?

They said there is no why. You're just not allowed to do it.

And if you do it? Your life is in your own hands. Take it or leave it.

RIDDELL (voice-over): At the World Judo Championships in 2019, Saeid Mollaei was pressured to lose his semifinal match so that he wouldn't have to face Israel's Sagi Muki in the final. That led to the World Judo Federation banning Iran for four years, a key piece of evidence which this audio clip of the order being given.

ARASH MIRESMAEILI, PRESIDENT, IRAN JUDO FEDERATION (from captions): Make him understand that he has no right to compete under no circumstances. He is responsible for his actions.

RIDDELL (voice-over): The charter makes clear that sports organizations within the Olympic movement shall apply political neutrality. But Mahdi Jafargholzadeh would beg to differ.


RIDDELL (voice-over): He says his opposition to the government was known and, in 2004, he was arrested, detained and tortured for six months. Jafargholzadeh says he was accused of planning to be an Israeli spy.

JAFARGHOLZADEH: They break my nose, many different stuff that I don't want to even talk about or I don't want to remember it.

RIDDELL (voice-over): The charter prohibits discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other. But the football player Shiva Amini says that she constantly faced discrimination as a female athlete.

And when she was picketed in 2017 without her hijab, a compulsory headscarf, she realized it would be too dangerous to return home to Iran. Ever since, she says, both she and her family have been threatened.

SHIVA AMINI, FORMER OLYMPIC ATHLETE (through translator): I get SMS messages from people, saying, "We will cut off your head and send the photo to your family."

RIDDELL (voice-over): All of these athletes now live abroad and all have united to tell the stories of Iranian athletes to the world. They've been motivated by the execution last year of wrestler Navid Afkari, who was put to death as punishment for a murder that his family and supporters say he did not commit.

On the day of the alleged crime in 2018, Afkari had been taking part in the anti-government protests that were sweeping the country. Now the campaign group United for Navid wants the world to pay attention to their plight. And they're calling on the International Olympic Committee to take action.

MASIH ALINEJAD, UNITED FOR NAVID: I strongly believe that Iranian athletes are so powerful. And they can bring change within the society because, you know, they are the true heroes. I really love them because, you know, it's a risk for them as well. Most of them, they have family inside Iran. And they know how cruel this regime is.

RIDDELL: In three separate letters sent in March and April, the campaign group has supplied case studies of 20 different athletes to the IOC. In these pages are contained testimonies of discrimination, harassment, reprisals, detention and torture.

The identities of eight athletes have been concealed because they are still living in Iran and their well-being could be in jeopardy. The IOC has not responded to CNN's request for comment. But the campaign group is calling for urgent attention. They say they are determined to keep fighting and are not afraid of the consequences.

PASHAE: Until we get an answer from the IOC we're not going to give up. This is the right thing we're doing to raise up, you know, and it's about our dignity. And we are going go to the end.

JAFARGHOLZADEH: I died 20 years ago. If you kill me again, you just killed a dead person. I lost everything when I was in Iran, what all happened to me.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Don Riddell, CNN.


NEWTON: So CNN sought clarification on the government's official position. And we asked, does the government of Iran acknowledge that, in the past, it has not allowed Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis?

And will Iranian athletes be allowed to compete against Israelis in the Tokyo Olympics?

We have not received a response.

We are not alone becomes a question of interest for U.S. intelligence agencies. Next, a new report on UFO sightings and a long list of questions that it still leaves unanswered.





NEWTON: The chairman of the Senate Intel Committee calls a new U.S. intelligence report on UFO sightings "inconclusive." It looked into more than 140 sightings of what is officially called "unidentified aerial phenomena" in the United States.

Now only one incident was explained. For the others, the report says there was no evidence alien life or foreign countries were involved. But -- this is a big but -- investigators could not entirely rule them out, either. Reports say the unexplained phenomena pose a flight security risk and possibly a challenge to national security. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Marik von Rennenkampff is a former analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense and he joins me now from San Francisco.

We have now the report, right, a lot of it has been declassified.

What is your opinion from what you've seen, along with the rest of us, that is there truly a possibility that UFOs are out there and that they could represent life beyond our planet?

MARIK VON RENNENKAMPFF, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ANALYST: Paula, thank you for having me, first of all.

I would offer 3 high-level points on the report. First of all, it is historic. It represents a sea change, an extraordinary change in how the government receives and handles this phenomenon.

For 70 years, the government has largely ridiculed, derided, ignored this phenomenon, this reporting, that's come in from aviators and other observers. So this is a historic change in how the government is dealing with and analyzing this phenomenon.

And I would give enormous credit to the Biden administration -- and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks in particular, who just put out a memo that formalized a mission space for this at the Pentagon.

Second point I would make, to your question, is we are dealing, the report is clear, we are dealing with real, tangible objects that are in the sky, that the government cannot identify. We know that because, for the majority of these observations that were reported in this report, they were captured on multiple sensor platforms.

So we are talking about radar satellite, infrared and so on. That largely rules out optical illusions and other visual disturbances. So that presents a fairly obvious potential national security threat.

When we have objects operating, often in restricted airspace, that the government cannot identify, there is also a very basic, very simple flight safety issue that the report made very, very clear. We have aviators that are operating and maneuvering around these real, tangible objects that are reported near collision.

So there is a threat to life. There is a threat to aircraft for our personnel that are again, flying around these objects.

And lastly, the last high-level takeaway from the report, it's no secret that America is deeply divided, politically, socially, culturally. This report, it offers a potential issue, one of very few issues that can unite all Americans.

I don't know a single person, Republican, Democrat, UFO believer or skeptic, scientists or non-scientists, who has read this report in its entirety and said, ho-hum, nothing to see here. So this is an extraordinary, extraordinary --


NEWTON: And in fact, you don't have to be American to feel that way, right?

Every human on this planet at this point is wondering what is up there.

You did point out, look, what they are looking at is physical evidence. Now 143 instances here that they cannot explain.

Do you believe that just lifting the stigma of actually talking about this and investigating it, do you believe that could lead to more concrete discoveries of exactly what the heck is out there?

VON RENNENKAMPFF: Paula, you raise a really, really good point. In one sentence in that report that says the majority of these 144 sightings were reported in the last two years alone. To your point, that is because new reporting structures were put in place in 2019 by the Navy, 2020 by the Air Force that is slowly eroding the stigma.

So if the vast majority of these 100 and almost 50 reports came only in the last two years, let's extrapolate. If that stigma had not existed, 20, 30 years back, my gosh, this is an extraordinarily common phenomenon.

So to your point, this stigma going away, slowly eroding, is a key to getting more granular data on these topics, on this phenomena and it'll lead to better analysis and hopefully some answers.

NEWTON: You were quick to point out earlier, this does have safety implications, security implications as well.


NEWTON: We have to leave it there but, my goodness, we're only beginning the discussion. Thank you so much, really appreciate it.

VON RENNENKAMPFF: Thank you Paula.

NEWTON: A historic department store in Paris which fell into disrepair but harkens to a bygone era of elegance is reopening after 16 years. CNN's Jim Bittermann takes us inside the newly renovated La Samaritaine.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not every day the president and first lady of France turn out to open a department store. But then, this is not just any department store and it is owned by France's richest man.

This is a newly renovated icon of consumerism, classed as an official historical monument of France, a veritable jewel of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, that Macron called "an institution" and that the owners hope will become a tourist destination. It wasn't always like this. La Samaritaine, named after the Biblical

story of the good Samaritan, was one of the first department stores in France, opened in 1870. It expanded into four buildings, eventually becoming the largest store of its kind in the country, offering everything from hardware to fashion, groceries to home furnishings, a fixture on the River Seine in the heart of Paris.

It was a sales monster and passed into the vernacular with its slogan, "You will find everything at the Samaritaine," something historic capitalized on with an ad featuring King Kong.

But tastes changed, sales dropped and the building fell into disrepair, becoming a safety issue and something of an eyesore on prime Parisian real estate.

Still, before the new owners of the site, LVMH, the fashion conglomerate, could begin a $750 million renovation program, there was more than a decade of very public political debate and administrative red tape over exactly how the historic monument should be rebuilt.

ELEONORE DE BOYSSO, PRESIDENT, EMEA DFS GROUP OF LVMH: Well, you know, politics, when you have such an iconic building in the center of Paris, of course, it comes into play.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): In the end, the company won approval for what has become known as a concept store, attempting to integrate on one side a sales point for 600 brands, a dozen restaurants and luxury hotels, spa and offices, all the while restoring the highly refined details of the building with optimistic expectations of turning it into a tourist destination.

BITTERMANN: In an era where businesses of every sort are abandoning bricks and mortar, it might seem like a risky venture, investing huge amounts of money in restoring a department store.

But the directors of the Samaritaine project are confident or, at least, hopeful, that the iconic nature of this building is going to help it make it a financial success.

BENJAMIN VUCHOT, CEO, DFS GROUP OF LVMH: Oh, bricks and mortar is definitely not finished and this is a demonstration that, you know we can still make big things happen and really deliver something outstanding that is differentiating and a true answer (ph) to choice.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): So, finally, consumers still can find everything at the renovated Samaritaine. It's just that LVMH has redefined the word "everything" -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


NEWTON: Thank you for being with us. I'm Paula Newton. Stay with us. "LIVING GOLF" is next.