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Tokyo Olympics Kicks Off; India's COVID Death Toll Under Reported; Southeast Asia Pummeled by Delta Variant; Haiti With New Prime Minister; France to Compel Everyone to Have a Health Pass; Flooding Killed 12 People in China's Henan Province; Olympic Village COVID-19 Isolation Bubble is Broken; COVID Cases Rising in Japan as Games Get Underway; Toyota Pulls Its Olympic T.V. Ads in Japan; Olympics CEO Won't Rule Out Cancelling Games Due to COVID; COVID Taking Much of the Fun Out of the Games; Extreme Weather Wildfires in United States; Merkel Makes Second Visit to Flood Disaster Zone; Bezos on Future of Space Travel; Biden and The Buccaneers. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Softball kicks off the first competition in the Tokyo Olympics after a yearlong delay. We are live in Tokyo with the latest on the games.

A new study finds India's official COVID death toll doesn't capture the true scale of the tragedy there.

And Jeff Bezos comes down to earth. We'll hear what he said about his historic trip into space and what comes next.

Welcome to all of you watching us in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.

With few fans in the stands, athletes isolated, sponsors weary, and the world watching, the competition of the Tokyo Olympics is now underway after being delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first event among athletes took place hours ago in Fukushima as Japan and Australia played the opening round in softball. The opening ceremony for the games is slated for Friday in Tokyo. And despite the worries the head of the World Health Organization says the Olympics are just what the world needs.


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 these games be the moment that unites the world, and ignites the solidarity and determination we need to end the pandemic together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER (on camera): But great uncertainty hangs over the host city

as COVID-19 cases rise and spread among more athletes and Olympic staff.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo. So, Blake, on one hand as we just heard we have the head of the WHO endorsing the games despite the ongoing pandemic. On the other hands, the head of the Tokyo 2020 saying the games could still be canceled.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Kim, I mean, take it, take it for however you want. I mean, whether these games are going to happen or not, you know, it seems like they are going to but again, we've heard months of debate whether or not they should or they shouldn't. They started today, whether they actually take place, you know, I suppose is up in the air.

But 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. Five have been confirmed from inside the Olympic Village. These are numbers that Olympic officials say are better than expected, considering that so far 22,000 people from overseas have arrived in Japan.

Now here in Tokyo, just yesterday, the case count reached its second highest daily increase since January. And even though the opening ceremony is only two days away, and while it seems incredibly unlikely, Olympic organizers are not ruling out canceling the games at the last minute.


TOSHIRO MUTO, CEO, 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.


ESSIG (on camera): Now although Olympic organizers maintain that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay, at least one public health expert says that there is no way to track the movement of the people, and that it's clear that this Olympic Village bubble is not working.

Now it's no secret now that the Olympics have been and continue to be deeply unpopular with the majority of the people here in Japan. And as a result of health and safety concerns, especially, you know, when we still consider that only about 22 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Quickly before we go, the opening ceremonies, I know they are still shrouded in mystery. But are we learning anymore what they will look like and who will be there?

ESSIG: Yes. You know, Kim, that's a great question. There is a capacity of 68,000 for this new national stadium built here in Tokyo, about $1.5 billion plus stadium. We don't know how many people will be allowed to attend. We know the spectators won't be allowed as far as the VIP's are concerned.


Organizers talk about yesterday we still don't know how many people will be allowed to attend the opening ceremony. And as far as athletes are concerned, we don't know how many people will be able to be -- to go through the opening ceremony. There are still a lot of athletes that haven't arrived because of those COVID protocols, they are only allowed to arrive five days before their event.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Blake Essig in Tokyo. I really appreciate it.

Still looking for the future of the Olympics, the IOC is set to announce Brisbane, Australia's the host of the 2032 summer games. The committee is scheduled to vote on the city's bid in about an hour, but the decision is all but made since Brisbane was names the preferred bidder back in January.

Now the Aussie delegation isn't taking anything for granted even though most of its competitors cities withdrew because of an expensive and rigorous application process.

Southeast Asia is getting hammered again by the coronavirus. Have a look here, you can see on the map where cases have risen in the last week when compared to the previous week.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout shows us some of the worst outbreaks and how countries are responding.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Southeast Asia is being slammed by a spike in COVID-19 as the Delta variant sweeps through the region. Health experts say that Indonesia has overtaken India to become Asia's new pandemic epicenter. Since June, the country has seen a rise in cases. In fact, on Monday, it reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths.

And the peak is likely yet to come with Eid al-Adha celebrations this week. The government's COVID-19 task force has issued a holiday week directive that restricts travel tourism and religious activities. And on the eve of Eid, Indonesia's President, Joko Widodo addressed the nation.


JOKO WIDODO, PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA (through translator): In the midst of the current pandemic, we need to be willing to sacrifice even more. Sacrificing personal interests and putting the interests of the community and others first.


LU STOUT (on camera): Thailand is also suffering its worst outbreak of the pandemic. To rein in the virus, the government on Sunday announced plans for a tighter lockdown in Bangkok and high-risk provinces. It's also suspending most domestic flights and expanding curfew areas. Vietnam has also tightened restrictions as COVID-19 clusters spread there. In the capital Hanoi, all non-essential services have been ordered to stop. Residents have been urged to stay at home.

The country's health minister says this. Quote, "this outbreak is not the same as the previous ones. We are preparing and standing ready for worse and worse scenarios."

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, the official COVID-19 death toll has risen to 50 percent this month to 5,000. Social welfare groups fear that the actual situation has become far worse since the military coup in February. Many of those suffering symptoms are choosing to remain at home, because they don't trust military run hospitals. Others say people have been turned away from overwhelmed facilities.

Malaysia has set new records and daily COVID-19 deaths amid a surge in infections. The surge comes even as Malaysia ramped up its vaccination program and imposed stricter lockdown measures over the past month. And as people struggle to cope during a prolonged lockdown in Malaysia, some have resorted to hanging white flags in their windows in a desperate plea for help.

Even Singapore is being slammed by the virus. On Sunday, the country reported its highest daily caseloads since August last year as infections emerge from an outbreak linked to karaoke bars and a fish report. Now Singapore is strongly advising unvaccinated people, especially the elderly to stay at home.

Although its daily cases are only a fraction of the number being reported by its Southeast Asian neighbors, the spike in cases is a setback for a country that is long been cited as a pandemic successfully.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

BRUNHUBER: Health experts have long suspected the coronavirus death toll in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic, 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 could be up to 10 times the official figure. That's close to five million people.

CNN's Vedika Sud is live in New Delhi. Vedika, so as I mentioned there, all throughout our reporting on the COVID statistics in India including the death toll, we mentioned that big asterisks. That number could be way higher. So now we're getting an idea exactly how much more. What are we learning?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, Kim. And previous studies by local journalists here in India have also gone ahead to point out and indicate that the numbers are not what they are officially, which is about 415,000 currently. Now this study per se is from January 2020 to June 2021, and it also

covers a few of the pre-pandemic months. So, at the very outset, you have the office of the study mentioning that the estimates are not really spot on, and the data also is limited.


And also, they go on to say that all the recent deaths mentioned which is from 3.4 million to about five million are not necessarily all COVID-19 deaths. Now this is based on three different data sources. The first is a civil registry system which is a system here in India where you record the births and deaths in districts across India, and you collect that data together.

The authors have got that data from seven states, which is almost half the population of the country, and they put the estimates of the excess deaths at about 3.4 million.

Now the other data source used is also where they've gone ahead with the (Inaudible), where one can understand through these surveys how many people could've been infected by COVID-19, and they put the excess death toll there at four million.

And the third data source is from the survey held in India, of 800,000 people where they put the death toll, excess death toll at about 4.9 million people. So, those are staggering numbers coming in. And we are expecting more studies in the coming days as well based on data from local journalists, who are the first one to actually export data from the government figures, which not necessarily were made easily available to them, Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And how is the government responded to all this?

SUD: Well, coincidentally, what happened was the day this study was published was the day when an M.P., a member of parliament asked the health minister a question related to the under reporting of deaths, and the possibility of under reporting of deaths through the first and second wave here in India to which the health minister completely denied under reporting of figures.

He went on to say there is no reason for the government here in India to under report figures and no instructions have been given to authorities to do the same, Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. All right. Thanks so much. Vedika Sud in New Delhi.

The U.S. is seeing a sharp increase in COVID cases as vaccinations lag in the highly contagious Delta variant surges. The CDC now says the Delta variant accounts for more than 83 percent of COVID cases and about 22 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with high COVID transmission.

Misinformation and the politicization of masks and vaccines aren't helping the battle against the virus. The U.S. Senate hearing on the pandemic turned heated as Republican Senator Rand Paul and top U.S. health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci sparred over the origins of the coronavirus. Listen to this.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress. And I do not retract that statement.

And Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about. Those viruses are molecularly impossible to result --


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): No one is saying we are.

FAUCI: -- and source COVID --

PAUL: No one is saying those viruses cause the pandemic.

FAUCI: You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that.


PAUL: And it could have been.

FAUCI: And if anybody is lying --

PAUL: It could have been.

FAUCI: -- here, Senator, it is you.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): A COVID health pass showing proof of 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 warn the virus and the Delta variant are spreading faster than ever in France, increasing by 150 percent in just one week.

Now 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.

Two weeks after Haiti's president was assassinated in his home the nation has a new leader amid a delicate and difficult path ahead. Ariel Henry was sworn in on Tuesday as Haiti's new prime minister. It came after days of infighting over who would lead the country following the killing of President Jovenel Moise. As for exactly what comes next, well, that is still unclear.

CNN's Matt Rivers explains from Port-au-Prince.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Haiti has a new leader, at least in the short term after now former Prime Minister Claude Joseph officially ceded that role to 71-year-old Arial Henry. Henry was sworn in to his new position as acting prime minister on Tuesday here in Port-au-Prince after a power sharing agreement was reached between basically two competing factions within Haiti's federal government.

Now Henry told Haitians during his swearing in ceremony that now is the time for unity and stability. Henry had actually been appointed to the position of prime minister by assassinated President Jovenel Moise, just a few days before Moise died. That didn't give Henry enough time to actually be sworn into that position which meant that at the time Moise died, Claude Joseph was still serving as prime minister.


Joseph held on to that role for about two weeks after Moise died, which prompted a lot of criticism that Joseph was basically just engaging in a naked power grab trying to hold on to that role. But eventually, after a few weeks of negotiation, Joseph decided to step aside, returning to a previous role as foreign minister allowing Henry to assume the role of acting prime minister.

He certainly has a lot of work cut out for him here given the levels of violence that we have seen here in Haiti recently. There are calls a lot of people want new elections here in Haiti that were originally scheduled before the end of September, but there's also a lot of people on the island saying that now is not the time to do those elections because of that violence, because of the instability on the island.

There are some who believe that you can't have free and fair elections in Haiti right now. Henry says he does want to have elections as soon as possible. So, we'll have to see how exactly he moves forward in that regard.

Meanwhile, funeral events for President Moise officially kicked off here in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. They will shift north to the place he was born, a city in the northern part of Haiti later in the week, with the official funeral coming on Friday.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

BRUNHUBER: The interim president of Mali narrowly escaped a stabbing attacked at a prayer service on Tuesday. Security forces took two men into custody after at least one of them tried to stab Assimi Goita at an Eid celebration. The motive isn't known.

After hours after the attack, Goita appeared on television showing he was uninjured, saying, quote, "it's part of being a leader."

All right. Still to come on CNN Newsroom, trapped in the subway. Rescuers in China work to evacuate people after record-breaking rain and severe flooding. We'll have the latest in a live report ahead.

Plus, Iraqi officials are investigating a deadly bombing in a Baghdad market. We'll explain why some fear it's just a preview of what's to come.

Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): John Kerry is urging countries to ramp up efforts against climate change. The U.S. climate envoy spoke in London on Tuesday ahead of the COP 26 climate talks in Scotland later this year. He says the world needs to cut emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030. And it needs to work with China to do it. Here he is.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: To those who say we should avoid engaging with China on climate change because of our differences, I say 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.



BRUNHUBER (on camera): Extreme weather has been linked to climate change. And China has seen extreme weather right now. Rescue operations are ongoing after heavy rain and flooding in central China. Emergency teams evacuated these people from subway lines in the capital of Henan province.

Terrifying images posted on social media show passengers trapped in trains packed tightly together as murky water floods in. Chinese state media say at least 12 people died in subway stations.

Our Kristie Lu Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong. Kristie, I understand the rains that caused this flood were 1000-year event.


BRUNHUBER: What's the latest?

LU STOUT: Devastating scenes coming out of China's central Henan province with its provincial capital Zhengzhou being utterly drenched with record-breaking rainfall. 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 experienced a year's worth of rain in the last three days.

State-run media is reporting at least 12 people are dead so far and nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated to safe zones. And it's not just Zhengzhou. There is a severe flooding take -- taking place in a dozen cities across central China. We have been monitoring just scenes of devastation coming out of central China over the last couple of days.

You know, looking at flooded streets with cars completely submerged, people using floats, and rafts, boats, and even human chains to try to reach flood victims and of course those scenes from the Zhengzhou subway station. The subway station completely flooded with people trapped inside the passenger cars as the water rushes in.

I want you to listen to this man who was trapped inside one of those cars as the water was rising.


WANG KERONG, XIPING VILLAGER (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 (on camera): Now Kim, that was from another flooding survivor. But there're many tales like this being repeated across the region here of people in villages, of people in Zhengzhou, the city that is the capital of Henan province. Authorities in regards to the subway situation say that at least 200 people have been rescued from the subway system, but sadly, 12 people were found dead. Back to you, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Incredible pictures and stories as you say. So, what's been the response from the government to all of this?

Lu STOUT: Yes, there was a statement issued out earlier today by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, it was issued on Chinese state-run media, and he said that he demanded that authorities at all levels give top priority to ensuring the safety of people's lives and property. He said that the flood control situation is extremely severe.

We know that Henan province as well as its capital Zhengzhou has raised its disaster level response to the highest level, level one. And they must, forecasters say that there will be three more days of rain ahead. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Well, the death toll has climbed to 30 in an ISIS suicide bombing in a crowded market in Baghdad. Iraq's president and prime minister condemned the attack and vowed to bring those responsible to justice. Now before we show you this, a warning some of the video in Arwa Damon's report is graphic.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Parent should have been clutching bags overflowing with purchases for Eid al-Adha, not screaming for help. Children should have been skipping with excitement and anticipation at the sticky sweets and gifts to come. They lie among the dead and wounded. Some too young to even know of the years when this sort of violence was Iraq's ugly morgue. For those who do remember, this is not just another bombing, it's the

cruel shattering of hope. The throat grabbing fear of the realization of what sort of tragedies could lie ahead. It permeates households across the country. For just about every person in this nation has known the pain of violent loss.

And just about every person craves a life where simple actions aren't a death sentence. Iraq over the years has seen fleeting glimpses of that, only to be brutally reminded that stability is often little more than an illusion.

ISIS claimed responsibility for this explosion that hit a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood saying, it was a suicide bomber. Iraqi authorities say they are investigating. But no matter who actually set the bomb, this is the byproduct of years of failed U.S. policy, either by ignorant or design.


Successive Iraqi government obsessed with their own power place and plague with corruption. Iran's toxic meddling and so much more. Once again, flickers of happiness and joy replaced by grief.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): No one was hurt after three rockets landed near the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani and other high-ranking officials were gathered outside in prayers. You can see when the attack happened. ISIS has claimed responsibility. Concerns are mounting for the safety of the Afghan people as U.S. and NATO troops leave the country. According to the Long War Journal the Taliban have tripled the number of districts they control since April.

Well, as opposition to the Tokyo Olympics escalates in Japan, one of the game's top sponsors is pulling -- or isn't putting on their TV ads in japan. Is it now taboo to be connected to a COVID plagued event? We'll have that story next.

Plus, they've come to compete and stay for the party, but there isn't much fun going on in Tokyo, thanks to strict COVID measures. We'll explain how athletes are coping when we return. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): Welcome back to all of you watching us from all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. You are watching CNN Newsroom.

After a year of heartbreaking delays, athletic competition at the Tokyo Olympic games is underway. And the highly anticipated opening ceremony for the games is slated for Friday. 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, saying it's a celebration of hope, but the fact remains there are still plenty of critics who fear the games could be a COVID super spreader event.

And at least one public health expert warns the isolation bubble organizers setup to control COVID is broken.

Here is CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with more from Tokyo.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that they are 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 are being represented here. The U.S. women's gymnastics team 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 still based on circa summer 2020 data. Still using Plexiglas, 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. It's confusion now because the 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.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): So, let's bring 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 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 (on camera): Well, I think the Toyota's move is very interesting, but not surprising, given how the tainted that you measure of the Olympics has become in Japan. People are not just afraid of the COVID. Increasingly, people are more angry and frustrated at what's going on. So, this might be the historic moment when, you know, Olympic sponsors think that their association with the Olympics will negatively affect their sales, right?

BRUNHUBER: Yeah, 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, the head of the WHO was in Japan, addressing the IOC. So, I want to play you what he said. Here he is.


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 these games be the moment that unites the world and ignites the solidarity and determination we need to end the pandemic together.


BRUNHUBER: So, I'm wondering, does it surprise you, considering the state of the pandemic in Japan right now, the growing number of COVID cases directly linked to the Olympics to hear the head of WHO backing the games?

ITANI: Well, it is shocking and then also there is a great misunderstanding of what the Olympics has meant for the people here the past year. You know, the hope, and you know, bring people together had been emphasized. But they need to recognize the Olympic has been the factor to divide the public.

You know, like in the 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 organizing committee is saying one thing to the Olympics and saying the other things to the public.

For example, people are told not to, you know, eat out, drink alcohol at home, and do not make travel and just stay home and not PCR testing everybody, because the force negative -- the result is more harmful, et cetera.

But on the other hand, we see the Olympic is fast always going ahead, right? The tens of thousands of people arriving Japan and some people are going around the city, even the head of IOC going to Hiroshima without fulfilling their two-week quarantine period. And there's no money is going into the Olympics while hardly any financial support are given to the really struggling people. So, the Olympics is dividing people, not bringing people together.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. 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 this to see a 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 it too expensive and the logistics of it is too hard. But the fact of the Organizing Committee mentioned about the possibility of cancellation a significant because so far despite all these mounting you know, issues, they have been denying the possibility of cancellation. So there -- maybe they might be preparing to make the announcement, but I don't know. I'm not an insider.

BRUNHUBER: Alright. And then, you know, there is the political cost of this as well. Recent polls suggest the Prime Minister's popularity as a new low. What do you think the political ramifications of this will be?


ITANI: Well, yeah. As you mentioned, the approval rates of the Prime Minister Suga is historically low. It's just about 31 percent. But if you look at -- if you look at the divide closely, the approval rate -- his approval rate is particularly low among women and only 27 percent of women support him while 35 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 particular hard for the part- timers and minority of woman.

And also medical workers, especially nurses, are very vocal about the danger of this Olympics and then the misplaced priorities. So, this frustration is now going to change if this game will keep going. So, if he cancels this Olympics now, it might change, but it seems like it is 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.

Some are calling it the no fun Olympics, but the usual fanfare and festivities surrounding the games nowhere to be found in Tokyo with COVID-19 clearly putting a damper on the excitement athletes are left with fewer ways to de-stress.

CNN's Blake Essig reports.


UNKNOWN: Welcome to day one in Tokyo. It's such a perfect day today.

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

UNKNOWN: Very quiet, not 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.

UNKNOWN: That little car is driving by itself. Like no one is on the wheel with it. That's kind of cool.

ESSIG: Under normal circumstances, the Olympics create a festival like atmosphere. But COVID fears that 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 or 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 ever so elegantly disproven by Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan.

MCCLENAGHAN: Apparently, you cannot create 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 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 a check out. A number that Kunihiko Okamoto, vice president of Okamoto Industries, who supplied some of the condoms being distributed at the games says it 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.

Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.



BRUNHUBER (on camera): More than 80 major wildfires are burning in the U.S., including one so massive it's creating its own weather. We'll get the latest report from the frontlines.

And historic flooding has devastated parts of Western Europe. Now, many residents say rebuilding has to mean being better prepared for the next disaster. That's still ahead, stay with us.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): You are looking at a wildfire in the U.S. State of Oregon. And it's so huge and so intense, it's creating its own weather. It is called the Bootleg Fire, and by some estimate, it won't be fully contained until November. Deadlier and more destructive wildfires are the new normal and the Bootleg isn't alone.

CNN's Dan Simon reports its one of at least 83 large fires burning in 13 states.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The monstrous Bootleg Fire in Oregon has scorched more than 600 square miles in area larger than Los Angeles.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): Right now, this is the fourth largest fire to burn in Oregon since 1900.

SIMON: It is so massive and so dangerous that fire crews have had to escape the fire nine days in a row.

UNKNOWN: We saw multiple pyrocumulus clouds.

SIMON: The fire also so intense it's creating its own weather. The formation of pyrocumulus clouds is a phenomenon that enables the fire to create its own thunderstorms, which in turn can produce lightning, strong winds and even fire tornadoes.

UNKNOWN: We just continue to see day, after day, after day of conditions that are not in our favor.

SIMON: In a typical wild fire, the weather will dictate the path and intensity. But with the Bootleg, experts say the fire is predicting what the weather will do, nearly 1100 acres burning per hour and containment hovering just around 30 percent. Nearly 70 homes have been destroyed.

BROWN: After last year, what is very clear is that no corner of our state is immune to fire. On the West Coast, and here in Oregon, the urgent and dangerous climate crisis has exacerbated conditions on the ground.

SIMON: The Bootleg Fire far from alone. More than 80 large wildfires are raging in 13 states across the country, burning more than 1 million acres. In California, the Tamarac Fire has forced the evacuation of at least a half dozen communities. Most were only given a few minutes to evacuate when the fire exploded Saturday, going from 500 acres to now nearly 40,000.

JOHN LYNCH, WILDFIRE EVACUEE: We had 10 minutes to grab, you know, what we could, and the dog, and we got out of there.

SIMON: Anxious residents allowed to return to their homes today with an escort to look around and grab some essentials.

JUANITA HATFIELD, WILDFIRE EVACUEE: Just hoping to see if our house is still standing. I know, you know, they say it's OK, but I really want to see it for myself. It's scary.

UNKNOWN: The Deputy just told us that our house is still standing. We just want to check it all out.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): That was Dan Simon reporting from California. And while wild fires and drought scorched the American West, countries in East Asia are bracing for another powerful typhoon.

CNN meteorologist, Karen McGinnis joins me now. Karen, you've been tracking this, what's the latest?


KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, 83 major wildfires that we have just heard and talked about, 11 western states impacted by this. Anytime the fire season starts and it started off very ferociously, because it's been so tinder dry for years now. But there's one particular fire that has really exploded across South Central Oregon, has really had quite a bit of fire activity associated with it, 2,200 firefighters battling this particular blaze that already has consumed in excess of 157,000 hectares or just about 390,000 acres across this region.

They've evacuated a number of people. The top four fires in Oregon in history have all occurred within the last 20 years. That gives you just how -- some idea of how climate change has impacted this region. It's now the fourth largest fire that Oregon has seen in their history. And it isn't just the area that is affected by the fire, but that smoke continues across Canada. Even in New York City, they are seeing hazy skies across that area.

Alright. Let's move on towards the Olympics. It is going to be hot and it's going to be muggy. We are not going to see really any substantial chances for precipitation there. Meiyu, Baiu front is kind of the trigger mechanism for those showers. And ahead of it, we are seeing the heat.

This time of year, it's very hot. Changsha City, that is the capital city of Hunan Province. There are about 94 million people that live in the province, but about 10 million people in that particular city, 12 fatalities from severe flooding from almost a year's worth of rainfall.

And then two tropical systems, one that is moving in the vicinity of Hainan Island back out into the South China Sea and will begin to weaken. But In-fa, In-fa looks very ferocious on the satellite imagery, a clearly defined eye, 170 kilometer per hour winds as it treks towards the west. It will impact Taipei and then out about four to five days, its impact will be across central sections of coastal China, but we'll keep you updated on that. Kim, back to you.

BRUNHUBER: Alright. Thanks so much, Karen McGinnis. I appreciate it.

Almost 200 people have died in floods which swept across Germany and Belgium. 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.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more on the chancellor's visit.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): 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. When 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 Alf, 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 as 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 un- 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 money quickly reaches people who are often are left without nothing other than what they are wearing and who are therefore dependent on the support.

PLEITGEN (voice over): 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 had before.

They say they understand that natural disaster, like the one that they saw here could become more frequent. And that certainly one of the things that they say they are going to think about when they rebuild this town. 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.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Bad Munstereifel, Germany.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): Alright. Just ahead, billionaire Jeff Bezos is back on earth after reaching the edge of space. We will show you what's next for the richest man in the world and his vision for the future of space travel.

Plus --


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: I think about 40 percent of people still don't think we won.


BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President?



BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champions visit the White House. We will show you why the MVPs jokes won't land well with Donald Trump. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): The world's richest man has made it to the edge of space and back. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, and his new Shepherd Crew launched from West Texas for a supersonic joyride that included a few minutes floating in microgravity. Here are the sights and sounds from the historic flight.


UNKNOWN: Hey, guys.

UNKNOWN: This is the flight director. New Shepard is go for launch. Booster (ph) commence the start (ph).

UNKNOWN: We'll comply.

UNKNOWN: T minus 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, commence start, two, one.


UNKNOWN: (Inaudible). Look at those. It's dark up here.

UNKNOWN: First stop, your booster has landed.

UNKNOWN: Booster landed.

UNKNOWN: Standby drove. Standby drove.

UNKNOWN: Welcome back to Earth, First Step (ph). Congratulations to all of you.

JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON FOUNDER: Blue control, Bezos, best day ever.

UNKNOWN: My expectations were up here and they were exceeded. So, I will say this.

BEZOS: Zero G was certainly different than I thought it was going to be. It was surprisingly natural to move around at that environment, which is not what I was anticipating.

UNKNOWN: That's really true. It felt like, it was -- almost like we were (inaudible).

UNKNOWN: Oh, I love it. I love it.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): And Jeff Bezos spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper shortly after the flight. He laid out his vision for space travel and shared how he intends to use it to save the planet. Listen to this.


BEZOS: We need to build a road to space, I mean, build infrastructure, reusable space vehicles, and so on, so that the next generations can build a future.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You talked about the infrastructure, you already have in place when you started doing Amazon. You had the postal service.

BEZOS: Exactly. So, you know, when I started Amazon, I was, you know, a young guy and there was this 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 Road Mail and Deutsche Post and so on. That would have been hundreds of billions of dollars in capital expense to build.

COOPER: So some smart kid in a dorm room right now has a dream for space they can't --

BEZOS: They can't 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 us first (ph). Maybe the young guy, Oliver, who flew with us today, maybe he will be one of them. COOPER: What does that look like though and what is this road look like? I mean, you've talked about a human presence on the moon. Obviously, you know, Elon Musk is talking about Mars. What does it look like?

BEZOS: There are couple of things. One of things is that it's really about moving heavy industry. I know this sounds fantastical, and it is fantastical. Remember, if you went back to the Kitty Hawk Air and showed them a 787, they would think that's fantastical. But we really have to move heavy industry and polluting industry off Earth. Earth is too small and too --


COOPER: Nuclear power plants, coal plants.

BEZOS: Everything. We need to beam energy down to Earth. We will make it in space, would probably soar, we'll beam it down. When we make chips and microchips and everything else, all that dirty polluting stuff, we will make in space, and do those activities in space. It will be much better.


BRUNHUBER: Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady isn't scoring any points with one of his biggest fans, former U.S. President Donald Trump. Brady, and the NFL champion, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, visited the White House to meet with Joe Biden. That's an honor Brady skipped when Trump was president in 2017.

Now, Brady has publicly acknowledged his friendship with Trump, but in 2020, said political support is totally different. And on Tuesday, Brady made a crack about the big lie. Listen to this.


BRADY: Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. And in fact, I think about 40 percent of people still don't think we have one.

BIDEN: I understand that.

BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I understand that.

BRADY: We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me Sleepy Tom. Why would they do that to me?

BIDEN: I don't know.


BRUNHUBER (on camera): And the Buccaneers presented the 46th president with a team jersey there. Alright. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Isa Soares is up next with another hour of CNN Newsroom.