Return to Transcripts main page


Olympics Won't Rule Out Canceling Games Due To COVID; Study: India's COVID Deaths May Be 10 Times Official Count; Record-Breaking Rain Triggers Flood In Henan Province; U.K. Prime Minister's Ex- Adviser Accuses Him Of Callous Approach; Trump Ally Charged With Illegal Foreign Lobbying; Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin Crew Complete Successful Flight; Extreme Weather Sign of Worsening Climate Crisis; COVID Taking Much of the Fun Out of Olympics. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, competition officially gets underway at the Olympics amid a surge of COVID infections, bringing a stunning warning from officials in Tokyo. A last-minute cancellation is still on the table.

A deadly flood emergency in central China, two dams have collapsed, subways have flooded, thousands forced to flee their homes after the heaviest rains in a thousand years.

And Jeff Bezos returns to Earth with an epiphany. The planet is fragile, and climate change is causing real damage.

The hits just keep coming to these Olympics. Big name sponsors appear to be trying to distance themselves from the games. Toyota now canceling an Olympic related advertising campaign in Japan.

The composer of the music for the opening ceremony has stepped down over decades old allegations of bullying.

And Tokyo Bay where canoeing and rowing will be held has reportedly been hit by a plague of oysters. Now, the head of the organizing committee says a last-minute cancellation is still possible. Toshiro Muto says COVID cases are being monitored and appropriate measures will be taken if necessary.

Across Japan, there is a surge in COVID infections and Tokyo is currently under a coronavirus state of emergency.

The Olympics first competition though has been held in Fukushima as Japan and Australia play the opening round of softball. Japan (INAUDIBLE). Our Will Ripley tells us how critics fear these games could quickly become a super spreader event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Three days before the Olympics are set to begin, details about the opening ceremony remain shrouded in mystery.

It's already known no regular spectators will be in attendance. Just how many athletes will participate? What sponsors and dignitaries will attend? All remain open questions.

This as COVID-19 cases are surging in Tokyo, sparking the jaw dropping statement by the head of the Tokyo Organizing Committee that a last- minute cancellation of the games themselves is still an option.

TOSHIRO MUTO, CEO, TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS (through translator): We could not predict what the epidemic will look like in the future. So, for what to do, should there be any surge of positive cases, we'll discuss accordingly if that happens.

RIPLEY: Infections are already creeping up among athletes and those connected to the Olympics. That includes Kara Eaker, an alternate for the U.S. gymnastics team. Her dad told "NEW DAY" she feels OK and does not have any symptoms.

MARK EAKER, FATHER OF U.S. GYMNAST KARA EAKER: Definitely a disappointment for her and heartbreaking for us.

RIPLEY: Eaker will return to the U.S. after 10 days isolation.

Despite all the restrictions, the so-called bubble of the Olympic Village has been punctured with several positive COVID cases detected among the South African soccer team. Tokyo officials insists the village is still safe.

MASA TAKAYA, TOKYO 2020 SPOKESMAN: The IOC and Tokyo 2020 are absolutely clear that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay.

RIPLEY: Health experts say the wider strategy of keeping the visiting foreigners away from locals is failing.

DR. KENJI SHIBUYA, PRESIDENT, JAPAN INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH: It's obvious that bubble system is kind of broken. So, there seems to be some sort of interaction between guests and visitors and also local people.

RIPLEY: Tokyo officials insist they are containing the situation with only a few dozen cases among some 22,000 foreigners who've arrived for the game so far.

BRIAN MCCLOSKEY, OLYMPIC GAMES LEADING HEALTH ADVISER: If I thought all the tests that we did were going to be negative, then I wouldn't bother doing the tests in the first place. And the numbers we're seeing are actually extremely low. They're probably lower than we expected to see if anything.

RIPLEY: But with more transmissible variants like the Delta, and more than 11,000 athletes descending on Japan from more than 200 countries, fears are growing about the risk to those visiting Tokyo and the local population.

An apprehension on the rise as more athletes test positive, knocking them out of contention on whether the games will actually be a true representation of Olympic greatness. Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.


VAUSE: Live now to Tokyo and CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Well, hi, you're there in Tokyo. It's good to see you.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Great to see you, John. Thanks.

VAUSE: OK. So, when they made this decision in March last year to postpone the game, so 12 months. They were taking a gamble, right? That by now the pandemic would be contained.


VAUSE: So, in that context, are these comments about a possible last- minute cancelization now -- cancelation, I should say, realization that the gamble has not paid off, or doesn't have to do with major sponsors backing away, where do we stand here?

The games are not going to be canceled. As you noted, they've already started. The softball has begun, women's soccer, football is going to be going on this afternoon.

So, the games, I guess maybe the doomsday scenario, John, would be if there were hundreds of positive tests in the village over the next few days, which it doesn't appear to be likely. We never know.

But I know, the games are not going to be canceled, that -- certainly that comment has resonated around the world but they're moving on.

As far as what does it mean? I think what it means is that they're trying to hold the world's largest regularly scheduled peace time gathering in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. And this is what happens if they've pushed it to the fall or pushed it to 2022, probably wouldn't look like this.

But this is what it looks like. And we're going to have these stories in this drumbeat every single day, and I'm on it, you're on the story.

But the reality is, they're going to press forward unless there's some absolute catastrophe.

VAUSE: Yes, I mean, what journalists in the Olympics gathering scandals. Everyone tries to find the scandal de jure (PH).

But you know, there are a growing number of infections coming from the Olympic Village. I mean, it's now just more than 70. So, has there been any word that they've actually decided to change what they're doing there? Any change in protocol? Any change in the guidelines to try and find out why this is happening and try and fix it?

BRENNAN: As of yesterday, no. We will get the briefings later today. And there may well be some guidance there, but no.

But what's interesting, and what I'm going to be watching is the South African men's soccer team playing Japan tomorrow.

Obviously, that's a big match. A big for the host country here. And they have two positive tests of players who are being quarantined right now for the South African men's soccer team, John.

And also, their video analyst positive test, those were two, three of the four positives within the village. And they're also close contacted -- close to a dozen members of the -- I believe it's eight now. South African men's football team that are going to have to pass a COVID test six hours before kickoff tomorrow, or they can't play.

So, not only would that be on the sports front, a depleted team, that is certainly the lesser of two concerns if in fact more of those South African men's football players would be testing positive tomorrow, but they would be cleared to play.

And what we've understood from the medical people in the health commissioners is that the tests are very sensitive. And they believe strongly that if those athletes are negative on their COVID test, that that will be safe for them to play. We will see of course.

VAUSE: As you mentioned, the games are underway. The opening ceremony is Friday, but officially, Japan has defeated Australia in softball, 8-1. Bit of a shellacking there for the Australians.

But for most accounts, it was kind of a pretty miserable event there in Fukushima just a handful of people in the stadium, which had a capacity of up to 30,000, there was reports of just a few dozen. They had loud speakers playing recorded crowd noise. Is that what we can expect over the next, you know, few weeks? Is that what the competition will be like?

BRENNAN: John, in a word, yes, absolutely yes. I guess that's three words. Without a doubt.

In fact, the U.S. right now is playing Italy in the second game in the softball and it's cavernous. What it looks like for those countries that have come out of the pandemic a little bit or at least come out of lockdown, as the U.S. has and others. It looks like last year, so I guess it's appropriate these games are the 2020 games still is what the name on the -- you know, the slogan, the logo is 2020 because it reminds you of 2020.

Yes, empty seats, very much of looks like a kind of a practice. And that's a shame. But that's the reality of these games. And we will see it at swimming and gymnastics and track and field. We will see it everywhere at the Tokyo Olympics.

VAUSE: Christine Brennan there. We appreciate you being there. We appreciate your insights, and we'll talk to you again soon. Thanks.

BRENNAN: Thank you, John. I'm looking forward to it. Take care.

VAUSE: Take care, you too.

Well, there's been a little doubt the actual number of coronavirus deaths in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic is much higher than the official count. But now, a new study finds the disparity in those numbers could in fact be in the millions.

The U.S. based Center for Global Development believes India's death toll could be up to 10 times the official number, that's close to five million people.

CNN's Vedika Sud is live this hour in New Delhi. There is a big difference between 500,000 and 5 million, Vedika. So, what is behind the disparity?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Staggering numbers there, John, but at the very outset, the authors of this have mentioned that there is no authoritative figures from the pandemic for India as far as the estimates of the death toll is concerned.

Another thing that he made clear through the study is that these estimates could be a bit off as well, because this is a data based on three different estimates for the death toll, including the serological surveys here in India, as well as going to households. The survey based on 800,000 interviews that we conducted.


SUD: So, there are three different ways of doing this. And the numbers are from January last year till June this year. So, we talked about January 2020, to June 2021. And the estimates are between 3.5 million to about 4.9 million.

Now, remember, the official toll till January -- till June rather this year is about 400,000 here in India. So, that's quite a number we're talking about.

But also very quickly, the government has come out to say that we are not hiding numbers, they've said that we get our data from the states. And that's what we go ahead and publish.

One of the other ways of getting the data that this study has also used as a civil registry system here in India, that records deaths and births.

One very valid point here after speaking to experts that I've understood, John, is the fact that many of these states are very poor. The healthcare infrastructure is not the best or not robust enough.

And also, the debts that are recorded are perhaps 20 to 30 percent of the real numbers. So, keeping all those variations in account, it is difficult even to get official data here in India.

Also remember, as far as the census of India is concerned where you do register the population of the country. The last sentence is recorded for India was in 2011. So, data here is really running behind schedule and even by the time we get official numbers for the entire year of 2020, it could take another two years from now, John.

VAUSE: Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud there live in New Delhi.

Well, at least 12 people are dead after heavy rain and flooding in central China. Officials say the dead were found in flooded subway stations.

Video posted on social media shows passengers trapped in subway cars as murky water floods in. It's been a year's worth of rain in three days in the capital of Henan province alone.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live now from Hong Kong with more on this. This is a flood emergency. I think one official said the worst floods in a thousand years.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, and we've been looking at some very dramatic and extraordinary images coming out of China's central Hunan province, especially its capital Zhengzhou being drenched with these record breaking rains.

Zhengzhou is a city of about 12 million people. It's situated on the banks of the Yellow River. And authorities there say that the city has experienced a year's worth of rain in three days.

State media is reporting that 12 people are dead so far. 100,000 people have been evacuated to safe zones. And it's not just Zhengzhou, streets in a dozen cities across central China are battling these floods.


STOUT (voice over): People try to drive down flooded streets. Police help those who can't make it. These were some of the scenes on Tuesday as heavy rain pounded China's Hunan province causing massive flooding.

In Zhengzhou City, 457 millimeters of rain fell in just 24 hours. The Meteorological Department there says that for three days, they've had the equivalent of a year's worth of rainfall.

The emergency response raised to the highest level by raft, by boat, by human chain. Rescuers bring people to safety.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua says that more than 144,000 residents have been affected by the flooding and more than 10,000 people have been evacuated.

One man in Xieping (PH) village says he and his family lost everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We had some food at home but most of it was destroyed by the flood. Even our bed was floating in the flood. We cannot live there at all. Now the government and the party brought us food and water. STOUT: Many reservoirs are at or above capacity, roads impassable and power lines down. Passengers trapped in subway cars as rushing water fills the subway station.

At the airport, people wait in long lines to change their tickets after more than 200 flights were canceled.

Scientists say climate change is making extreme weather events like these more frequent and more intense. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry says that China plays a key role in combating global warming.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: There is simply no way mathematical or ideological to solve the climate crisis without the full cooperation and leadership of a country that today leads the world with 28 percent of global emissions.

STOUT: China has not yet responded to Kerry's challenge.


STOUT (on camera): Now, the U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry he made those remarks in London on Tuesday. China says that it plans to reach peak CO2 emissions by 2030. It plans to become carbon neutral by 2060.

At a climate conference earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping said it was the responsibility of all developing countries to be able to balance economic development needs with fighting climate change.


STOUT: He said this "Developing countries now face multiple challenges to combat COVID-19, grow the economy, address climate change. We need to get full recognition to developing countries contribution to climate action and accommodate their particular difficulties and concerns. Developed countries need to increase climate ambition and action."

But John, the United States says that is simply not enough that China needs to make faster carbon cuts. All this taking place, of course, as these devastating floods take lives in central China, John.

VAUSE: Yes, it's that time of year but it seems the time of the year more deadly than has been for quite some time. Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong.

Well, almost 200 people have now died in floods, which swept across Germany and Belgium. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her second visit to one of the flood zones on Tuesday. Cleanup and rebuilding will take months, maybe years and likely cost billions of dollars.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more now on the Chancellor's visit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Folks are trying to pick up the pieces here in the areas that were so affected by the floods in Germany and of course, in parts of Belgium as well.

We're in the town of Bad Munstereifel which is an absolutely beautiful, very historic town, a medieval town that normally would see a lot of tourists this time of year.

And what happened here is that the river that you see here, the Erft, as the rain was coming down, it just went and rose very, very quickly and simply obliterated a lot of the things that were in its path.

One of the things that we see here, like in so many towns, is that the solidarity between people is just absolutely enormous. There's folks coming from all over Germany to just lend a helping hand.

Now, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she also visited this town today. And she said she wanted to assure the folks here and in all of the affected areas that the German government would help.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The point here is that on the one side, aid is immediately paid out and bureaucratically, together with the state. The state will decide this on Thursday, the state premier told me.

And then, we will together do everything we can so that the money quickly reaches people who often are left without nothing other than what they are wearing, and who are there for dependent on the support.

PLEITGEN: When you speak to people here, one of the interesting things that they keep saying is that they understand that with global warming, with climate change, with the world's climate emergency, they might have to rebuild their town differently than they have before.

They say they understand that natural disasters like the one that they saw here, it could become more frequent. And that's certainly one of the things that they say they're going to think about when they rebuild this tower and try to make sure that if there is an event like the one that we saw last week here in Germany, that the town would be prepared and the infrastructure would be in place to hopefully cope with it as well.

Frederik Pleitgen, CNN Bad Munstereifel, Germany.


VAUSE: So, still ahead, the chairman of Donald Trump's Inaugural Committee is under arrest. He's trying to influence foreign policy within the Trump White House.



VAUSE: Well, he was once the chief adviser to the British Prime Minister, but now Dominic Cummings has said after a spectacular falling out, has publicly turned on his old boss. Dominic Cummings told the BBC that Johnson put his own political interests ahead of people's lives. He was willing to let COVID wash through the country rather than let the economy fail because he believed the only people dying were over 80 years old and less politically active.

Cumming has also said earlier in the pandemic, Johnson was determined to keep his weekly audience with the Queen.


DOMINIC CUMMINGS, FORMER CHIEF ADVISER TO U.K. PRIME MINISTER: You might have coronavirus. I might have coronavirus. You can't go and see the Queen. What if you give -- what if you go and see her then give the Queen coronavirus? Obviously, you can't go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you persuade him not to do it?

CUMMINGS: I just said if you go and you give her coronavirus and she dies, what are you going to -- you can't do that. You can't risk that. That's completely insane.

And he said, he basically just hadn't thought it through. And he said yes, I can't go.


VAUSE: Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care suffering from the coronavirus. Cummings resigned last year after an internal power struggle.

Downing Street denies his accusations and says since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice.

Goes on to say, the government he leads has delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the furlough scheme and prevented the NHS the National Health Service from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.

The former chairman of Donald Trump's Inaugural Committee is under arrest charged with illegal foreign lobbying. A judge has ordered billionaire Tom barrack detained until court hearing on Monday.

CNN's Paula Reid has details.


TOM BARRACK, FORMER CHAIR OF TRUMP'S INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: I'm here because Donald Trump is one of my closest friends for 40 years

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (VOICE OVER): One of former President Trump's closest allies and biggest fundraisers, billionaire Tom Barrack is facing federal charges relating to alleged attempts to influence the 2016 Trump campaign and administration on behalf of a foreign country, the United Arab Emirates and lying to cover it up. Barrack was arrested by the FBI in California. One of his employees,

Matthew Grimes was also arrested and charged.

Prosecutors allege that during the 2016 campaign when Barrack was a campaign advisor, he and Grimes acted as agents of the UAE tasked with influencing public opinion, the foreign policy positions of the campaign and the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government as well as developing a back-channel line of communication.

Prosecutors say that influence could be seen in this line of a speech that Trump gave in May 2016.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship.

REID: And prosecutors say that Barrack failed to register as an agent of a foreign government as the law requires. Barrack was allegedly acting on behalf of the UAE during media appearances.

After Trump's victory, Barrack became the chairman of Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee. It was during this time prosecutors say he repeatedly took steps to assist the UAE in connection with the transition to the incoming administration, communicating with unnamed Emirati officials.

The assistance allegedly continued into the Trump administration between January 2017 and October 2017. When prosecutors say Barrack acted to aid the UAE and its dealings with the executive branch.

That allegedly included agreeing to advocate for the appointment of individuals favored by the UAE and the new U.S. government administration.

When the FBI interviewed him in 2019 about his activities with the UAE, prosecutors allege Barrack knowingly made numerous materially false statements.


REID (on camera): In a statement, a spokesman for Barrack said that his client has made himself available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.

VAUSE: Breathe easy. The world's richest man is back on Earth after loving the joyride, which made quite an impression it seems on how on Jeff -- on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. More on that in a moment.



VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. A big part of the climate change debate has focused on cause and effect to the rising global temperatures lead directly to an extreme weather event. And now the answer appears to be yes.

Scientists have found the recent heat dome which formed over the American Northwest last month would have been virtually impossible without human caused climate change, adding a few extra degrees.

The number, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are stark reminders that climate crisis is here and happening in real time.

For billionaire Jeff Bezos that took a joy ride at the very edge of space to reach the same conclusion. We have more now on that history making flight from CNN's Rachel Crane.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN SPACE AND INNOVATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Blast off, a Blue Origin's new Shepard on its first human flight carrying the richest man in the world billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos into space.

MARK BEZOS, FOUNDER OF AMAZON & BLUE ORIGIN: Best day ever. And I couldn't pick up -- I couldn't pick the best part. Could you pick a best part?

CRANE: Also on board, Bezos' brother Mark, pilot Wally Funk at 82, the oldest person ever to go into space and the youngest 18 year old paying passenger Oliver Daemen. The four experiencing the weightlessness of space for the first time and taking in the breathtaking views.

BEZOS: We see this giant atmosphere that we live in. We think it's big when we're here on the ground. You get up there, it's so tiny, it's a small little thing and it is fragile.

CRANE: Touchdown in Texas after a little more than a 10-minute flight.

And the booster landing up right here on the landing pad. Blue Origin saying reusable components like this are critical to driving down the cost and accessibility of space travel.

And it all comes nine days after Richard Branson blasted off in his Virgin Galactic spaceship too. Advancing the era of billionaire funded human spaceflight.

Branson reached 53 miles above the Earth. Bezos soaring higher, past the 62-mile-high Karman line, often referred to as the altitude at which space begins.

Today is the first human step for Bezos' space company Blue Origin which foresees a world where millions of people are living and working in space.

BEZOS: What we need to do is build a road to space so that future generations can take all heavy industry and polluting industry on earth and move it up into space so that we can keep this gem of a planet as it is, instead of ruining it.

CRANE: Passenger tickets for future Blue Origin flights are on sale for the select few. The price tag not yet revealed. But Bezos says he will be flying again.

BEZOS: Hell yes. How fast can you refuel that thing? Let's go.


CRANE: The company says they have two more flights scheduled for 2021 with paying passengers on board. And that's just the start they say. They're actively working on their orbital class rocket called New Glenn. They're developing that down at Cape Canaveral in Florida. And that rocket will go potentially to the moon and beyond.


So, Jeff Bezos, now that he has stepped back as CEO of Amazon, he told me that he intends to put more of his focus and his energy on the space endeavors with Blue Origin. Back to you.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Joining us now is Donald Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois.

Professor, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: Thank you.

Now, after his joyride to the very edge of space, billionaire Jeff Bezos had an epiphany. Here he is.


JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON AND BLUE ORIGIN: We're these tiny little things, and the planet, atmosphere is so big, but when you get up above it, what you see is it's actually incredibly thin. It's this tiny, fragile thing.

And as we move about the planet, we're damaging it. And, you know, so that is -- you know, that's -- that's a very profound thing. It's one thing to recognize that intellectually. It's another thing to actually see with your own eyes how fragile it really is.


VAUSE: That's a great thing for Mr. Bezos, but where has he been living for the past few years? You know, in Washington state, where Bezos has a 20,000-square-foot mansion. There are at least three major wildfires burning right now. Next door

in neighboring Oregon, the biggest wildfire in the nation is so big it's creating its own weather patterns.

"Unpredictable winds, fire clouds that spawn lightning, and flames that leap over firebreaks are confounding efforts to fight the blaze," according to "The New York Times."

You know, to almost everyone else on this planet, the impact of the climate crisis is not an intellectual exercise. It is real, and it is here right now. Isn't it?

WUEBBLES: Well, it certainly is. You could go much further than you just did and talking about what's going on and the flooding in Germany and Belgium, the -- the extreme rainfall and resulting flooding in India, and the heat waves and wildfires that are occurring in Siberia.

So much of the world is seeing climate extremes, and those climate -- those extreme weather events, we now can clearly connect with the changes that are occurring in climate.

VAUSE: And for the most part, everything which the scientists had warned would happen is happening. As CNN reported on Tuesday, scientists are worried about by how fast the climate crisis has amplified extreme weather, and that seems to be because even now computers are not able to predict the impact and the intensity of extreme individual events.

I think I've got that right. And it seems that that sort of information would be crucial to know what we actually have to prepare for.

WUEBBLES: You know, if anything, we are under-predicting what is occurring. And so that's the surprising part for the scientists, is telling us that we do still need to improve our capabilities of modeling physics and chemistry and biology that's driving our climate system, but what it's also telling us is it's not because we're overstating the concerns. It's that we perhaps are understating.

VAUSE: A computer that big, it will be essentially some kind of supercomputer like the ones that the Europeans built during the Sixties for nuclear research. Is that the kind of thing that we're talking about here, to do this --

WUEBBLES: We're talking about the fastest computers in the world. It's what we used to try to analyze what is going on with the Earth's climate system. And -- and we learned a lot from those models, but we also realized that -- that we're underestimating some of those changes.

VAUSE: Yes. The U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry, was in London on Tuesday. And he said that the past 30 years were a failure in terms of our response to climate change. I think he means the political response, too. And that fairly continues. He says it was a watered- down climate bill which passed the French Parliament on Tuesday.

Then there's this difficult relationship between Washington and Beijing. And here's what he had to say about that.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY: Climate cooperation, it is the only way to break free from the world's current mutual suicide pact. President Biden and President Xi have both stated unequivocally that each will cooperate on climate, despite other consequential differences.


VAUSE: That cooperation will be crucial, because calling it a suicide pact does not seem to be an exaggeration. If anything, it could be called the largest murder-suicide of all-time, if you look at the loss of animal life, as well.

WUEBBLES: Certainly. Biodiversity is also important, and the two issues are clearly connected.

At the same time, Sir David King, who was the science adviser to two recent U.K. prime ministers, stated a few years ago that climate change is not just the biggest challenge of our time. It may be the biggest challenge of all time.

And I think that clearly says that we are not taking this issue seriously enough as we look at what that means to our children and grandchildren and --- and how we prepare for their future.


VAUSE: Yes. Professor, we're out of time, but it does make you wonder how much -- how much chaos, how much destruction, there has to be before we actually take this all seriously and to make some serious changes.

But good to see you. Thank you for being with us, Professor Wuebbles.

WUEBBLES: Certainly. Happy to.

VAUSE: Still to come, no fans, no frivolity, no fooling around. Welcome to the COVID Olympics. How pandemic restrictions are taking the fun out of the Summer Games.


VAUSE: Welcome back. A COVID health pass, which can prove either full vaccination or the negative test, is now required in France for leisure activities with more than 50 people. Well, part of the government's response to the spread of the Delta variant.

Starting August 1, the pass will be required in most public venues as well as travel hubs. Violators could face stiff fines and a year in jail.

Call it the no-fun Olympics. Just two days until the opening ceremony, the usual fanfare and festivities surrounding the Olympics are nowhere to be found. With COVID clearly putting a dampener on the Olympic excitement.

Well, now, back to Tokyo, CNN's Blake Essig is standing by. And, you know, it does sound it's quite miserable. There's no spectators, can't have a drink, no one's cheering. What's it like?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No fun at all, John. It's fair to say that these Olympic Games will be like no other. They're already delayed once because of an ongoing global pandemic. A laundry list of rules and regulations have been put in place to try and hold these games safely.

In fact, for athletes and officials, the playbook outlining COVID-19 countermeasures is about 70 pages long. They must sign a waiver, essentially saying that they're taking part in these games at their own risk.

Well, Olympic officials are trying hard to cement a positive legacy and create an upbeat tone for these games. So far, it hasn't worked.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to day one in Tokyo. It is such a perfect day today.

ESSIG (voice-over): With just a few days to go before the games began, the Olympic village is starting to come alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very quiet, not that many athletes. But lots of food choices, which is always really good.

ESSIG: A transformation captured on video by a member of the Australian swim team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That little car is driving by itself, like no one's -- there's no deal with it. That's kind of cool.

ESSIG: Under normal circumstances, the Olympics create a festival-like atmosphere. But COVID fears at these games have created a unique situation. Ninety-seven percent of events taking place will be held without spectators.

And for all events, the sale of alcohol has been banned, and fans are not allowed to cheer.

Back in the Olympic Village, organizers say athletes can only consume alcohol alone in their room and must avoid hugs, handshakes, high fives, and apparently, sex.

RHYS MCCLENAGHAN, IRISH GYMNAST: In today's episode of fake news at the Olympic Games, the beds are meant to be anti-sex.


ESSIG: Recently, some media reports and athlete tweets came out saying that the beds, made of recycled materials, were anti-sex and would collapse under the weight of more than one person or celebrations. A claim that Olympic organizers say isn't true and one that was so elegantly disproven by Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan.

MCCLENAGHAN: Apparently, they're going to break under any sudden movements. It's fake. Fake news.

ESSIG: Over the past several decades, the Olympic Village has developed a bit of a reputation. That reputation involves hundreds of thousands of condoms and a lot of people using them.

MAKI HIRAYAMA, SOCIOLOGIST, MEIJI UNIVERSITY: All the top athletes of the Olympics had extreme concentration for long years, and they cannot leave only with concentration, and we need release.

ESSIG: That release for athletes, according to Maki Hirayama, a sociologist who studies sexuality, often happens in the form of sexual activity.

HIRAYAMA: After the competition, they need a deep relaxation. And I believe to have sex is the biggest relaxation.

ESSIG: While Olympic organizers didn't include any specifics about sex in the playbook outlining COVID-19 countermeasures, they are, in a way, making it more difficult.

Condoms are typically distributed to athletes when they arrive at the Olympic Village. This time around, roughly 150,000 condoms will still be distributed, but only at check-out. A number that, Kunihiko Okamoto, vice president of Okamoto Industries, who supplied some of the condoms being distributed at the games, says was reduced because of COVID-19.

KUNIHIKO OKAMOTO, VICE PRESIDENT, OKAMOTO INDUSTRIES (through translator): Before the pandemic, we thought the Olympics would be a great opportunity to showcase our products. It's important to raise awareness around STDs. But during the pandemic, and given the situation, we feel there are more important things in the world than talking about the importance of condoms.

ESSIG: But whether condoms are readily available to athletes, Hirayama believes sex in the village is going to happen more than ever before. She says despite the restrictions put in place, after dealing with the pandemic, a delayed Olympics, and a lifetime of training and restrictions, the big release for athletes is inevitable.

ESSIG: And of course, it's still too early to tell, but it seems like the legacy of these Olympic Games will be defined by the global health crisis. The festival-like atmosphere that typically accompanies these games simply does not exist.

And with all the rules and regulations put in place, Tokyo 2020 is shaping up to be remembered as the no-fun Olympics -- John.

VAUSE: Just like Beijing in 2008, but you know, they were a little more fun than this. OK, since there was no pandemic back then. But Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there in Tokyo.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break. I'll see you again at the top of the hour.