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Tokyo 2020 CEO Won't Rule Out Last-Minute Cancellation Of The Olympic Games Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases; Record Breaking Rain Triggers Floods In Henan Province; Study: India's COVID Deaths May Be 10 Times Official Account; WHO Head Says the World Needs a Celebration of Hope; Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin Crew Complete Successful Flight. Aired 2-2:45a ET
Aired July 21, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, this is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Coming up this hour, amid all the doom and gloom hanging over the Tokyo Olympics, there is some hope the first competitions have begun, and the games are getting a vote of confidence from the head of the W.H.O.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Extreme flooding hits Central China on what's being described as a once in a thousand years event. The situation was so dangerous, hundreds of people were trapped underground in subways.
And after a historic launch into space, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos talks with CNN about the experience and his hopes for the future of space travel.
BRUNHUBER (on camera): Competition at the Tokyo Olympics is now underway after being delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first event among athletes took place a few hours ago in Fukushima, as Japan and Australia played the first game of women's softball.
The opening ceremony for the games are slated for Friday in Tokyo. And while rising COVID cases in Japan have overshadowed the Olympics, the head of the World Health Organization is showing his support. He says, "The world needs now more than ever a celebration of hope.
All right, let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig in Tokyo. So, Blake, on one hand, as I just said, we have the head of the WHO endorsing the games despite the ongoing pandemic. On the other hand, the head of Tokyo 2020 is saying the games could still be canceled.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, you know, this is the mixed messaging that we've experienced for months surrounding these Olympic Games.
Again, the constant unpopularity of these games, medical professionals calling for these games to be canceled, given the circumstances yet Olympic officials saying that they're going to happen, and, but, you know, depending on the circumstances, maybe not.
But right now, cases in Tokyo are surging and Olympic-related cases continue to pile up. As of today, 79 people involved with the games have tested positive for COVID-19 here in Japan, five of those people have been confirmed from inside the Olympic Village.
Now, those are numbers that Olympic officials say are better than they expected when considering this. So far, about 22,000 people have arrived from overseas. But here in Tokyo just yesterday, the case count reached its second-highest daily total since January.
And even though the opening ceremony is only two days away, while it seems incredibly unlikely, the Tokyo 2020 chief says that organizers are not ruling out canceling the games at the last minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOSHIRO MUTO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TOKYO 2020 (through translator): With regard to infections, what will happen to the status of infections? We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So, we will continue the discussions if there is a spike in cases.
The coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so, we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: Although Olympic organizers maintain that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay, at least, one public health expert says that there's no way to track the movement of the people and that it's clear that the Olympic Village bubble is not working.
Now, it's no secret that the Olympics have been and continue to be unpopular with the majority of the people in Japan as a result of the health and safety concerns, especially when you still consider that only about 22 percent of people in this country have been fully vaccinated.
It's a reality that isn't lost on IOC President Thomas Bach. He recently acknowledged the skepticism surrounding these games, but said that he hopes that the mood will change once the game start. Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Well, speaking of the mood with all those COVID cases, with all of the restrictions, what is the mood like for the athletes?
ESSIG: Yes, you know, I mean, it's interesting, Kim, as far as athletes are concerned, generally speaking, some are worried and for good reason, of course, while I don't get the sense that they're concerned about getting sick and ending up in a hospital.
Instead, they're just simply worried about getting COVID by no fault of their own. After a lifetime of preparation. their Olympic dreams could be cut short if they catch COVID-19 or are considered a close contact with someone who tests positive.
BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Blake. Really appreciate it. Blake Essig Live from Tokyo.
Well, Olympians may be in store for some bad weather in the days ahead. Two typhoons are threatening the region, one of which is bringing rain and tropical storm conditions to Japan's southern islands.
Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins me now with the latest. Karen, so, what's heading their way and might it actually interfere with the Olympics?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What the biggest threat initially is going to be the heat and the humidity. This time of year, these temperatures are very warm. But we look ahead for the next several days and these temperatures are encroaching about two to possibly five degrees above a typical high temperature of around 28 or 29 degrees.
All right, it looks like for Friday, 32 degrees expected only a slight chance of a shower -- isolated showers. So, and then going to Saturday, we could see more numerous showers or storms. But still for the most part overall, keeping it about a 30 percent chance.
We'd go out into the next seven days. Those temperatures are still remaining fairly high. This humidity is going to be high. So, these Olympic athletes, that is going to be a big challenge for them because they -- it is going to be very oppressive.
MAGINNIS: Going into Tuesday and Wednesday, it looks like better chances for some moisture. This is the rainy season, very typical. And typically, the more you buy your front that introduces the rainfalls a little bit further to the north.
So, that's where we're keeping the chance of showers in the forecast. But this is draped across China. And that has presented different problems there with severe flooding that is taking place.
Already 12 deaths reported in Zhengzhou City, and this is a city that is the capital of Henan Province. For the province, they're about 94 million people. For the city itself, they have lots of canals and connecting rivers, but they are along the Yellow River.
Look at these rainfall totals. Zhengzhou, 645 millimeters. That's almost the equivalent of what they see for an entire year. There you can see just the torrent of rainfall that is flooded the city, but also tragically, the subway systems there as well.
Tropical Storm Cempaka, it is moved to the south of Hong Kong, moving over Hainan Island, will move out into the South China Sea and begin to weaken.
The other one, more powerful, very impressive on the satellite imagery is Infa. Most between Okinawa and Taiwan, they bring some much-needed rainfall to Taiwan, but also the potential for some flooding rainfall there. But as it moves, it's going to impact the central coast of China. So, beyond this time period, it looks like it's going to weekend, but not before producing some significant rainfall across this area. But we've got a lot to talk about across Asia. That's for sure, Kim. Back to you.
BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. We'll be watching it. Thanks so much, Karen Maginnis. Appreciate it.
So, as Karen mentioned, major storms in the region are bringing record-breaking amounts of rain. Already we've seen extreme flooding in central China.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): So far, millions of people are impacted. As we've mentioned, there have been a year's worth of rain in just three days in the capital of Henan Province. Chinese state media say at least 12 people died in subway stations.
These terrifying images posted on social media show passengers trapped in subway trains as murky waters flood in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
We just experienced something very unusual for the past hour. Just now the water level reached here. Now, the water level has finally dropped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (on camera): And our Kristie Lu Stout joins me live from Hong Kong. Kristie, I understand the rains that causes flood we're 1,000-year event. What's the latest?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, it's a really devastating images coming out of China Central. You know, Henan province with its capital Zhengzhou being utterly drenched in this record-breaking rainfall.
Zhengzhou is a city of about 12 million people. It's situated on the banks of the Yellow River. And as authorities and CNN's Karen Maginnis just reported, it has experienced a year's worth of rain in just three days.
As a result, Chinese state-run media has been reporting that at least 12 people have died so far. Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated to safe zones. And it's not just Zhenzhou, we are seeing scenes like this. Flooded streets, down power lines across central China in at least 12 different cities.
LU 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 Henan 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 and shipping 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.
LU 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 waited 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, UNITED STATES 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.
LU STOUT: China has not yet responded to Kerry's challenge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT (on camera): Now, the U.S. climate envoy John Kerry made those comments in London. On Tuesday, China has said that it plans to reach peak emissions by 2030 and plans to become carbon neutral by 2060.
At a climate conference earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on all developing countries to balance economic development as well as needs to end global warming. And a statement at the time.
He said this will bring it up for you, "Developing countries now face multiple challenges to combat COVID-19, grow the economy, and address climate change. We need to give 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, Kim, the United States says that that is not enough. They want China to engage in faster carbon cuts. This as China is reeling from a flooding crisis in the center of the country. Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, glowing -- growing urgency to get something done with all these climate emergencies. Kristie Lu Stout, live from Hong Kong. Thank you so much.
And China is hardly alone in facing record-breaking floods. In Western Europe, at least 196 people are dead after raging waters swept through Belgium and Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her second visit to one of the flood zones on Tuesday. Cleanup and rebuilding will take months, if not years, and likely cost billions of dollars.
Merkel says the focus is now on getting immediate aid to those who need it most.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): The point here is that, on the one side, aid is immediately paid out unbureaucratically, 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 therefore dependent on the support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Rebuilding trust may take time as well. Germany's flood warning system has come under fire in the wake of the disaster with some experts and critics saying more could have been done to prepare residents for the floods.
BRUNHUBER (on camera): All right, still to come, troubling numbers from the CDC on the surge of the Delta variant in the U.S. and how it's impacting hospitalizations and deaths.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Plus, a new study suggests, the COVID death toll in India could be far worse than we know. While the government's reaction to those findings coming up. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER (on camera): A year and a half into the pandemic, more people are returning to the office and to school, but the world is far from back to normal. The highly transmissible Delta variant is fueling surges in many of the places. You see they are marked in red like Australia, North Africa, and Western Europe.
BRUNHUBER: On Tuesday, the U.K. recorded its highest number of daily COVID deaths since March, almost 100, one day after England's opening.
And the U.S. is seeing a sharp increase in COVID cases as vaccinations lag and the highly contagious Delta variant searches. The CDC says the Delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of U.S. COVID cases, and about 22 percent of the U.S. population live in counties with high COVID transmission.
Here is CNN's Erica Hill.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dreams of a COVID-free summer turning into a nightmare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The Delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequence to cases. This is a dramatic increase from -- up from 50 percent, the week of July 3rd.
In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates.
HILL: Efforts to get more shots in arms have hit a wall with just under half of the population now fully vaccinated. As a new poll finds the majority of those who haven't yet had a shot are unlikely to get one. Yet it's the unvaccinated fueling new surges in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are trending in the wrong direction again.
HILL: In the past two weeks, hospitalizations are up 50 percent, HHS renewing the nation's public health emergency this morning.
CHAD NIELSEN, STAFF, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA HEALTH JACKSONVILLE: My greatest fear is that patients continue to pour in and we're unable to give them the care that they need because we don't have staff or resources.
HILL: Nearly half of California residents are now under mask mandates or recommendations. In L.A. County alone, cases are up 700 percent in the last month.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL: You've got kids at home or you're immunocompromised and you're thinking, should I be more cautious and put my mask on when I'm going to indoor spaces? I would strongly consider that. This is not the time to let down our guard.
HILL: While at least nine states have enacted legislation that prohibits local districts from requiring masks in schools, others have added mask requirements.
As for the vaccines, at least nine states banning public schools and universities from requiring proof of vaccination. Some, because it doesn't have full FDA approval.
Asked about whether it should be required in schools like so many other vaccines, Dr. Fauci said --
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I would not be surprised that in the future, this is something that would be seriously considered.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL (on camera): The White House continuing its push for more Americans to get vaccinated. As a new poll finds, the majority of those who are unvaccinated say they're not likely to get the shot, proving, once again, just how tough this road is in the U.S. where the vaccine is readily available, even as millions around the world wait for their first dose.
In New York, I'm Erica Hill. CNN.
BRUNHUBER: The Delta variant is posing a particular threat to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports 23,000 kids in the U.S. were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. And one expert says that will make things difficult as schools reopen this fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE: It's still early in this Delta epidemic, but from everything I can see it doesn't look like this virus is selectively targeting children. It's just that so many people are getting unvaccinated individuals who are getting Delta that children are getting swept up along with it.
And I think this is going to make things very difficult as the school year opens. I mean, especially in areas where there's low -- not a lot of people vaccinated.
So, for instance, here in the south, many southern states, fewer than 20 percent of adolescents are vaccinated, very small percentages of young adults. It means that it's a very vulnerable population in schools. And we have some governors that are saying no mask mandates for the school.
So, you know, it's hard to see how that's going to go well in some of those southern states up in the northeast, where most of the adults and adolescents are vaccinated, I think things could go much better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: A new study estimates more than 1 million children around the world have lost a parent to COVID-19. And that number grows by another half a million if you count grandparents or other relatives who helped to care for them.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): COVID will likely be a big topic during our live CNN town hall with Joe Biden. Don Lemon will discuss a wide range of issues with the U.S. president, so tune in Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. in New York, 8:00 a.m. Thursday in Hong Kong, 1:00 a.m. in London, of course only here on CNN.
BRUNHUBER (on camera): In India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic, health experts have long suspected the coronavirus death toll is much higher than the government's official count. And now, a new study finds the disparity in the numbers could be in the millions.
The U.S.-base Center for Global Development believes India's death toll can be up to 10 times the official figure, that's close to 5 million people. CNN's Vedika Sud is live in New Delhi.
BRUNHUBER: Vedika, as I mentioned all throughout our reporting on this crisis, the COVID statistics in India included -- including the death toll always came with that asterisk, right? That it could be way higher now we're getting exactly an idea of how much. What more are we learning?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Absolutely, Kim. But what's interesting is at the very outset, the authors of this study have made two things amply clear. One, that the excess death estimates -- are estimates not only of COVID-19 debts, but overall deaths that have taken place because the study begins from 2020, January, and it goes on until June this year.
So, those were pre-pandemic times as well that have been included in this data. Secondly, they have also gone on to say that there are limitations to the data that they have access.
Now, interestingly, the excess death toll varies from 3.4 million to 4.9 million. Until June this year, India had officially reported 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Now, in the first instance, this study, in fact, is based on three different data sources. In the first instance, 3.4 million excess deaths as what they are reporting, and this is based on India's civil registry system, a system that actually correlates birth and deaths in a different districts of the country. And they have taken into account seven states, which accounts to almost half of India's population.
In the second data source that they have extrapolated data from, this is from sero data, which is basically the data collected in India, of those people who have been infected by COVID-19. And that amounts to about 4 million excess deaths as reported by this study.
The third data use, in this case, is off and survey that has taken place with 800,000 people a part of that survey, and that also leads to them extrapolating data on the excess mortality that could have taken place between January 2020 to June 2021.
Now, what's interesting also is that the health minister has come out and said at this point when questioned in Parliament over the possibility of underreporting of deaths that no such thing is happening in India, and the states, in fact, are the ones who send the data to the center that only puts out these figures. Kim.
BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Vedika Sud, live from New Delhi. Appreciate it.
A COVID health pass providing full vaccination or a negative test is now required in France for leisure activities with more than 50 people. The measure announced by President Emmanuel Macron went into effect on Wednesday, as health officials warned the Delta variant is spreading faster than ever in France. Starting August 1st, the pass will be required in most public venues, and travel hubs violators could face stiff fines and up to a year in jail.
Now, to Colombia where anti-government protesters have been rallying against a new tax reform plan. Stefano Pozzebon reports from Bogota.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN JOURNALIST (on camera): Demonstrators are back into the streets of Bogota this Tuesday after more than 80 days of continues nationwide unrest in Colombia.
POZZEBON (voice-over): That was first began now for a tax reform that the government has since canceled, but has now embraced a variety of issues, including chronic inequality and police violence in repressing the protesters.
And the people here that taking to the streets on Tuesday, which is Colombia's Independence Day, a sign that the changes proposed by Ivan Duque and his government, including a police reform and a new tax reform are not enough, and that the government has to change for the rest of the country to really change.
POZZEBON (on camera): For CNN, this Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.
BRUNHUBER: The interim president of Mali narrowly escaped a stabbing attack at a prayer service.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Security forces took two men into custody after at least one of them attempted to stab Assimi Goita at an Eid celebration. The motive is unknown.
Hours after the attack, Goita appeared on television showing he was uninjured, saying, "It's part of being a leader."
BRUNHUBER (on camera): A childhood dream come true. Billionaire Jeff Bezos is back on Earth, hailing his trip to the edge of space as the best day ever.
So, coming up, what's next for the Amazon founder and his vision for the future of space travel?
Plus, Tokyo is a city on edge at this hour with COVID-19 looming over an Olympics that's two days from officially opening. Stay with us.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: We've all heard the saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, fruits of all varieties come with nutritional benefits. Apples are rich in antioxidants and fiber. If you're grabbing one as a snack, don't discard the skin because that contains much of the fiber.
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BRUNHUBER: After a year of heartbreaking delays, (INAUDIBLE) competition at the Tokyo Olympics is underway, and the highly anticipated opening ceremony for the games is slated for Friday.
And while rising COVID-19 cases in Japan have cast a shadow over the 2020 games, the head of the World Health Organization is showing his support for the Olympics. He says, "The world needs now more than ever a celebration of hope."
But the fact remains there are still plenty of critics who fear the games could be a super spreader event. And at least one public health expert warns the isolation bubble organizers set up to control COVID is broken.
Here is CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with more from Tokyo.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I think that they're probably going to continue, you know, to move forward, but I think there's a few things that need to happen. One is they probably really do have to address this bubble that is broken.
I mean, you saw bubbles work well with the NBA, it's really challenging to do it in the Olympics. 200 some countries and territories being represented here. The U.S. women's gymnastics teams just basically said, we're not even going to be in the bubble, we're going to put our own teams inside a hotel because we think we can better control things there.
I bring that up just to give you an idea of how broken the bubble is. I think some of the precautionary measures in place have been effective, but some of it is still based on Circa Summer 2020 data. Still using plexiglass, for example, even though we know this virus aerosolizes. So, really being very careful about these precautions.
And I think finally, just having some criteria at this point because we're here on the ground, its confusion now because its CEO says the games could still be canceled at the 11th hour. What are the criteria? What are they going to be looking for specifically? Those are the types of things I think we all want to know.
BRUNHUBER: All right, so, let's bring in Associate Professor Satoko Itani from Kansai University. Thank you so much for joining us. I want to start with this the fact that a company like Toyota, Japan's most valuable company, Olympic sponsor, has decided not to air Olympic ads in Japan. They say it of sensitivity for the COVID situation. What does that say to you about the way the event is being perceived these days in Japan?
SATOKO ITANI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, KANSAI UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the Toyota's move is very interesting, but not surprising given how the tainted the image of the Olympics has become in Japan. People are not just afraid of the COVID, increasingly, people were angry and frustrated at what's going on.
So, this might be the historic moments when, you know, the Olympic sponsors think that their association with the Olympics will negatively affect their sales, right?
BRUNHUBER: Yes, I think some polls suggest, you know, about 70 percent of people in Japan don't want these games to go ahead.
Now, as I mentioned before, I brought you in here that the head of the W.H.O. was in Japan, addressing the IOC. So, I want to play you what he said. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The world needs now more than ever a celebration of hope. The celebrations may be more muted this year, but the message of hope is all the more important. May this games be the moment that unites the world and ignites the solidarity and determination we need to end the pandemic together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN NEWSROOM: So, I'm wondering, does it surprise you considering the state of the pandemic in Japan right now and the growing number of COVID cases directly linked to the Olympics to hear the head of the WHO backing the games?
SATOKO ITANI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, KANSAI UNIVERSITY: Well, it is shocking and also there is a great misunderstanding of what the Olympics have meant for the people here the past year. You know, the hope and bring people together have been emphasized, but they need to recognize that the Olympics has been the factor to divided the public.
You know, like the past year-and-a-half, just like around the world, Japanese society really suffered significantly by this pandemic, but we are seeing the double standard. The IOC, the Japanese government and the organizing committee is saying one thing to the Olympics and saying the other things to the public. For example, people were told not to eat out drink alcohol at home and do not travel and to just stay home and not PCR testing everybody because the false negative -- the result is more harmful et, cetera.
But on the other hand, we see the Olympic contestants going ahead, like the tens of thousands of people arriving in Japan, and some people are going around the city, even the head of the IOC going to Hiroshima without fulfilling the two weeks quarantine period. And the industrial money is going into the Olympics while hardly any financial support are given to really struggling people. So, the Olympics is dividing people and not bringing people together.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. I mean you mentioned money. You mentioned the head of the 2020 organizing committee -- I mean, he isn't ruling out canceling the games at the last minute. Do you have any hope that they will pull the plug or is there just basically too much money behind us to see it delayed again or even canceled?
ITANI: Well, I don't think they have a choice to postpone it. There has been too -- it's been too expensive, and the logistics of it is too hard. But the fact that the organizing committee mentioned about the possibility of cancelation is significant because, so far, despite all these mounting issues, they've been denying the possibility of cancellation. So there may be they might be preparing to make the announcement, but I don't know. I'm not an insider.
BRUNHUBER: All right. And then, you know, there is the political cost of this as well. Our recent polls suggest the prime minister popularity is a new low. What do you think the political ramifications of this will be?
ITANI: Well, yes, as you mentioned, the approval rates of Prime Minister Suga is at a historical low, it is just about 31 percent. But if you look at the divide closely, the approval rates -- his approval rates is particularly low among women. And only 27 percent of women support him while 33 percent of men do.
And this could be related to his mismanagement you know of this pandemic because the pandemic has resulted in a serious economic recession and the unemployment hit particularly hard for the part timers in minority of women, and also medical workers, especially nurses, are very vocal about the danger of this Olympics and then the misplaced priorities.
So this frustration is not going to change if this game will keep going. So if he cancels the Olympics now, it might change, but it seems like he's going ahead.
BRUNHUBER: It does, indeed, hard to stop that momentum. Listen, we'll have to leave it there. But thank you so much for your insights there. Satoko Itani in Tokyo, I really appreciate it.
ITANI: Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: The world's richest man has made it to the edge of space. Now, back on Earth, Jeff Bezos is looking towards this next launch and how it might be able to use space to benefit our planet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: We really have to move heavy industry and polluting industry off earth. The earth is too small and powerful. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Nuclear power plants, coal plants?
BEZOS: Everything. And then beam the energy down to Earth. We'll make it in space with probably solar. We'll beam it down when we make chips and microchips and everything else. All that dirty polluting stuff, we will make it in space.
BRUNHUBER: The newest member of the billionaire astronaut club seize the future where space travel is much more than a joyride for the uber elite. CNN caught up with Amazon Found Jeff Bezos about a supersonic flight to the edge of space.
Rachel Crane has our report.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Blast off. A Blue Origins New Shepard on its first human flight, carrying the richest man in the world, billionaire Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, into space.
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: Best day ever. And I couldn't 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 passengers Oliver Daemen. The four experiencing the weightlessness of space for the first time and taking in the breathtaking views.
BENZOS: We see this giant atmosphere that we live in. We think it's big when we were here on the ground. You get up there, it's so tiny. It is a small little thing. And it is fragile.
CRANE: Touchdown in Texas after a little more than a ten-minute flight.
And the booster landing upright here on the landing pad, Blue Origin saying reusable components like this are critical to driving down the cost and accessibility of space travel.
CRANE: And it all comes nine days after Richard Branson blasted off in his Virgin Galactic spaceship too, advancing the era of billionaire funded human space flight. Branson reached 53 miles above the effort. Bezos soaring higher, past the 62 miles 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 in which 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 (on camera): The company says they have 2 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 he has step back as CEO of Amazon, he told me that he intends to spend more of his focus and his energy on his space endeavors with Blue Origin. Back to you.
BRUNHUBER: So, in Rachel's report, you heard there Jeff Bezos talking about his experience reaching the edge of space.
So once back on Earth, the Amazon founder sat down with our Anderson Cooper and laid out his vision for space travel and how he intends to used it to save the planet.
BEZOS: We need to build the road to space, I mean, build infrastructure, reusable space vehicles and so on, so that the next generations can built the future.
COOPER: You're talking about the infrastructure you already have in place when you started doing Amazon. You had the Postal Service, you had --
BEZOS: Exactly. So you know, when I started Amazon, I was a young guy and it was 27, almost 30 years ago, and I didn't have to build a package delivery system, it existed. It was called the Postal Service, and UPS, and Worldmail and Deutsche Post and so on. That would have been hundreds of billions of dollars in capital expenses.
COOPER: So, some smart kids in a dorm room right now has a dream for space, they can't do it?
BEZOS: They can do it, that's exactly right. And -- but if we can lay that infrastructure, then do that hard work, then there will be able to be a bunch of entrepreneurs, maybe the young guy, Oliver, who flew with us today, he will be one of them.
COOPER: What does that look like though? I mean, what does this road looked like? I mean you talked about a human presence on the moon.
COOPER: Obviously, Elon Musk is talking about mars. What does that look like?
BEZOS: And there's a couple of thing. One of the things is it's really about moving heavy industry. I know this sounds fantastical, and it is fantastical. And, remember, if you went back the key hawk era (ph) and showed them in 1787, they would think it's fantastical. But we really have to move heavy industry and polluting industry off Earth. Earth is too small and too crowded --
COOPER: So the nuclear power plants, coal plants?
BEZOS: Everything. We need to beam energy down to Earth. We will make it in space with probably solar, we'll beam it down when we make chips and microchips and everything else and all that dirty polluting stuff, we will make it in space and do those activities in space. It will be much better.
BRUNHUBER: That was newly-minted Astronaut Jeff Bezos speaking with our Anderson Cooper.
And before we go, China has unveiled a new superfast train. The country's new maglev train can reportedly reach speeds of 600 kilometers per hour. Now, if that's true, it's the fastest ground train vehicle in the world. Chinese developer engineered the train and used electromagnetic force so it levitates above the track, making no contact with the rail as it glides forward.
China has been advancing the technology for nearly 20 years. Right now, a smaller maglev train runs in Shanghai between city center and one of its airports.
Well, thank you very much for watching CNN Newsroom this hour. I'm Kim Brunhuber. World Sports is next.