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CNN NEWSROOM

Opening Ceremony for Summer Games Just Hours Away; Japan Spent Billions on Games, Ended Up Barring Spectators; Delta Variant Fuels Surge in COVID Infections Across Asia; WHO Calls for All-Out Vaccination Effort in Africa; Italy Announces Mandatory 'Green Pass' to Curb Cases; U.N. Warns of Growing Jihadist Threats; Australia Pushes Back on Possible 'In Danger' Rating for Great Barrier Reef; Bolsonaro Losing Support in Brazil. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired July 23, 2021 - 00:00   ET

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


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

[00:00:59]

And ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, let the COVID-tainted games begin. Despite raising cases and controversy, opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics are now just hours away.

The next generation of jihadists. A new report looks at where groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda are expanding as the west tries to wind down its war on terror.

The battle over the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and the United Nations clash about how to protect this natural wonder.

Less than seven hours from now, the emperor of Japan will finally announce the start of the Summer Olympics of Tokyo, ending a contentious one-year delay caused by COVID.

Many might have doubted this day would ever come. The games are enormously unpopular in Japan, and many people wanted them canceled. Yet, Emperor Naruhito and IOC President Thomas Bach say that some good can still come from the Olympics, especially after all the hardships overcome to hold them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMPEROR NARUHITO, JAPAN: It is my hope that, through their performances, the games will be a beacon of hope for a new future.

THOMAS BACH, IOC PRESIDENT: We can give our thanks to the many unsung heroes. The doctors, nurses, and all the people in Japan who are respecting the strict rules to contain. This is why our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and admiration for the Japanese people is great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Some of the 11,000 athletes of 200 countries will soon parade through a mostly empty stadium, with fewer than 1,000 VIP spectators. But the carefully choreographed opening ceremony won't have its creative director at the helm. Now, he was abruptly fired some 24 hours ago.

And even as the competition gets underway COVID remains a constant threat. A state of emergency in Tokyo, along with a number of precautions and protocols for the games, have not kept new cases from spiking to their highest levels in six months. At least 110 cases are linked to the athletes or the games in some way.

Now, CNN's Blake Essig joins us now, live from Tokyo. And Blake, amid much fear and controversy, the Tokyo games finally open today. Set the scene for us.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie, today is the day after a one-year delay. Months of uncertainty and a general population that didn't want it to happen, including the dozens of protesters behind me, who I will tell you are small in number but very loud.

At this point, the opening ceremony and official start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is just seven hours away. At the same time, COVID- 19 cases here in Tokyo are surging. Even with the state of emergency order in place, nearly 2,000 new cases were reported yesterday. That was the fourth highest daily total in Tokyo since the pandemic began.

Olympic-related infections are also rising, and 21 Olympic hopefuls are out.

Still, the games are already underway, and the opening ceremony, albeit a subdued affair, is set to take place tonight. For athletes, typically the opening ceremony is a huge deal, but this year, given the circumstances, only a fraction will be participating.

I recently spoke with Tony Azevedo, a five-time Olympian and silver medalist water polo player from Team USA. He says participating in the opening ceremony is the greatest feeling in the world, but if he was competing this year, there's no way he'd walk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY AZAVEDO, OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST: It must be very different. I mean, you can't -- you can't intermingle or meet your other athletes. You're still going to be on your feet, walking. And there's not the thousands of fans in the stands. Like I'm just giving you my -- if kit -- if it's me, there's no way I'm going. Right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[00:05:01]

ESSIG: Now, the national stadium, where the opening ceremony is being held, can seat 68,000 people. But we now know that only 950 dignitaries will be there in person. We'll see if that includes U.S. first lady, Jill Biden.

One person who won't be there is former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who played a key role in bringing these Olympic Games to Tokyo.

Now, Kristie, it's a national holiday today in Japan, but the streets here in Tokyo are relatively quiet. And it's been that way for months. We've been talking to people throughout the day to gauge their level of excitement, and generally speaking, it's health, safety and surging cases, not the Olympics, that dominates the conversation.

People here say that it's hard to get excited about these games. They say, even though they're happening here in Tokyo, it doesn't feel like it -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. Hard to get excited about what's been called the pandemic Olympics. Blake Essig, reporting live in Tokyo. Thank you so much and take care.

Japan spent billions of dollars to prepare for these Summer Games. Then came the pandemic. And most venues were suddenly closed to Olympic spectators.

CNN's Will Ripley takes us on an aerial tour of Tokyo and those massive structures now lying vacant.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking off, it really hits you. Hosting the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games is a massive logistical challenge.

(on camera): This is one of the biggest cities in the world. Every single direction you can look, the skyline in never-ending.

(voice-over): One building really stands out: Tokyo's 1.5 billion- dollar Olympic stadium.

(on camera): Right now, we're flying over the centerpiece of Tokyo 2020. Almost 70,000 seats in that stadium, nearly all of them empty.

(voice-over): The Olympics' first ever spectator ban. A dramatically scaled-down opening ceremony. Organizers say only about 950 VIP's attending, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden.

We get a closer look on the ground.

(on camera): This is as close as most Japanese are able to get to their Olympic stadium. Police have shut down surrounding roads and even fenced off the perimeter.

(voice-over): For everyday folks, this is their only shot at seeing the Olympics up close.

(on camera): Public opinion polls show Japanese overwhelmingly don't want the games to go forward, but you wouldn't know it, looking at these long lines of people who are waiting to take selfies in front of the Olympic rings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm worried about the Olympic bubble. It's not perfect but I want to cheer on the athletes.

RIPLEY (voice-over): That bubble: to protect athletes from COVID 19. A small but growing number of athletes are testing positive, even inside the Olympic Village.

POPPY STARR OLSEN, AUSTRALIAN SKATEBOARDER: So excited to go to Tokyo, but I'm also, like, terrified that you fly all the way there and then test positive.

RIPLEY: Athletes are tested for COVID daily, asked to arrive five days before competing and leave two days after.

From above, you can see how packed it is.

(on camera): Some 18,000 athletes and officials will be staying in those buildings down there. You can see a lot of their national flags on the sides.

(voice-over): Most of the Olympic venues are here in Tokyo. Japan invested billions, only to have fake crowd noise echoing through all those empty stands.

(on camera): This is going to be an Olympics like none other. And the world is watching. They want to see if Japan can pull this off in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a state of emergency, without the Olympic turning into a super-spreader event.

Will Ripley, CNN, flying above Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And with the Olympic Games now just hours away, many fear a massive COVID outbreak could be imminent. Cases are already surging in much of Asia, fueled by the highly-contagious Delta variant. South Korea, in fact, has just announced it will be extending its toughest social distancing measures in the greater Seoul area for another two weeks.

Cyril Vanier has a look at how other Asian nations are coping with these new infections.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): Lockdown in Indonesia. Emergency restrictions in place until July 25. More than 54,000 new cases were reported Wednesday.

The island nation now surpassing India with the most daily infections as the government struggles to vaccinate its population.

Not surprisingly, the Delta variant will be the dominant strain over the next few months, says the World Health Organization. The highly- contagious strain is already in 124 territories.

Like, in Bangkok. This was the scene there Tuesday. Hundreds of people lining up to get the vaccine at a bus station. No social distancing possible here. Thailand is facing its worst COVID outbreak so far.

BAE KYUNG-TAEK, KOREA DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION AGENCY (through translator): Currently, South Korea is in the middle of the fourth wave, and the outbreak of more than 1,000 patients a day continues for more than 15 days.

[00:10:01]

VANIER: This is what hospitals in South Korea have been dealing with. It's also their worst outbreak. The government says it may expand lockdown restrictions in Seoul.

More than 500 flights were canceled at a major airport in eastern China. Seventeen cleaning workers tested positive for the virus. The city says it's now on a soft lockdown as it tests all of its 9 million residents.

Oxygen cylinders are hard to come by in Myanmar. Patients are being turned away at hospitals due to a bed shortage. The ruling junta reporting a steep rise in cases.

This as the country remains in crisis after February's military coup.

Coronavirus misinformation now a big problem in India. One radio station uses the airwaves to raise awareness.

ARCHANA KAPOOR, FOUNDER, RADIO MEWAT: The radio really took it upon itself to communicate to the community that this is a problem. It's a global problem. There is a lot of fake news. Do not follow that.

VANIER: Getting ahead of the problem: convincing people to get the vaccine just as important as tackling the disease itself.

Cyril Vanier, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Meanwhile, in Africa, a call for an all-out effort to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Less than 2 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated against COVID as the continent fights its third wave of the pandemic.

But 60 million new vaccines are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, and when they do, the World Health Organization says the roll- out must pick up speed by at least five times to keep up with the virus.

Larry Madowo reports from Nairobi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The major issue for low- and middle-income countries, like these in Africa, is that of access and supply of vaccines. There are way more people that need vaccines than those available. So far, the World Health Organization says only 1.5 percent of

Africans are vaccinated. And now the UNDP, the WHO, and the University of Oxford say that vaccine inequality will have a lasting and profound impact for socioeconomic recovery here, unless urgent action is taken.

And when you look at the latest data, with the exception of South Africa, cases are still up in Africa for the ninth straight week.

DR. MATSHIDISO MOETI, WHO REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AFRICA: Let us be under no illusions. Africa's third wave is absolutely not over. A small step forward offers hope and inspiration but does not mask the big picture for Africa. Many countries are still at peak risk, and Africa's unprecedented third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before.

MADOWO: The WHO's latest data actually indicates that cases are surging in 21 African countries. And this tracks with what the director general, Dr. Tedros, has been saying: that vaccine inequality is the biggest obstacle to ending the pandemic and recovering.

And for Africa, that's still a long way off, because only vaccines provide that protection. And as one leading doctor, Dr. Kataj Gadinji (ph), has been saying repeatedly, a vaccine delayed is a vaccine denied. The end is still far for many in the continent.

Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And in parts of the U.K., there are growing concerns over what's being called a ping-demic.

A record number of people across England and Wales where pinged by the NHS test and trace app and told to self-isolate, because they had been in close contact with someone who has COVID.

Almost 620,000 people were pinged from July the 8th to the 14th, and their absence is having an impact.

Daily testing is now beginning in vital work places like grocery stores, and gas stations so staff have been pinged can keep doing their jobs if they test negative.

Now, in Italy, the government is ruling out a green pass that will keep people who are not vaccinated out of public venues, especially those that are indoors. The green pass, which becomes mandatory in two weeks, is an effort to curb the spike in Italy's COVID infections.

Journalist John Allen reports from Rome on how it's going to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ALLEN, JOURNALIST: Italy is facing a roaring rise in COVID cases. The government announced some 5,000 new cases today. That's double the weekly total -- the daily total, rather, of just a week ago. In response, the government has announced that, beginning on August 6, a green pass will become mandatory for accessing most indoor venues in the country. So bars, restaurants, concert halls, sports stadiums, swimming pools, gyms, basically anyplace people get that are indoors.

So to give you an example of how this is going to work, if you want to go out to a restaurant like the one I'm standing in front of, if you want to eat outside -- and frankly, most Italians do during the summer -- you're fine.

But if you want to go in, you're going to have to have the green pass, and that is proof that you've been vaccinated, or proof of a negative COVID test within the last 48 hours. Or proof that you've had COVID and recovered within the last six months.

[00:15:08]

And, you know, in terms of what the agenda here is, what the government is trying to achieve, I think they've made it clear as humanly possible. Health minister Roberto Speranza today said that the effort here can be expressed like this. Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, get vaccinated.

Reporting for CNN from Rome, this is John Allen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, and up next, global terror groups are making moves as some efforts to combat them wind down. What a new U.N. report reveals about the jihadists' expanding activities.

Plus, the debate over how best to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The United Nations is set to make a move that Australia desperately wants to avoid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the United Nations is warning of increased threats from terror groups linked with ISIS and al-Qaeda. It just released a report detailing escalating jihadist activity as efforts to combat it wind down.

It says that North Africa is a particular growth area, as is an old familiar location, Afghanistan. And as Nic Robertson now reports, easing of COVID lockdowns across the world may be providing jihadists with additional opportunities.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): COVID-19 travel, and other restrictions, have kept international Islamist terror threats at bay, a new U.N. report reveals. But it hasn't killed their threat. EDMUND FITTON-BROWN, U.N. MONITORING TEAM COORDINATOR: One of the

things that we highlight in the report that's just come out, is the possibility that the relaxation of lockdowns might mean that some pre- planned attacks can then take place.

ROBERTSON: The report, 20 years after al-Qaeda's horrific 9/11 attacks, reveals a world of growing jihadist threats and waning efforts to counter them.

From Somalia in East Africa, where U.S. forces backing the government left this year, al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, is spreading its brand of violence south, into Kenya.

Other al-Qaeda affiliates making gains through the Sahel region of Africa, too.

Meanwhile, in central and West Africa, ISIS is strengthening, crossing borders from Mali into Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and from Nigeria, into Cameroon.

In Nigeria, the death of an al-Qaeda-affiliated leader, as ISIS- affiliated fighters surrounded him, likely makes the ISIS affiliate the biggest outside of Syria.

[00:20:03]

FITTON-BROWN: Part of their vision of these regional structures is that these will enable them to increase the inter-operability of their global network, and ultimately, to mount a more effective threat, in -- particularly in the west.

ROBERTSON: Another risk gaining momentum: the birthplace of the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan.

Although it is too soon for the report to conclude the impact of the Taliban's recent gains and the U.S. draw-down, one member state estimates ISIS, who claimed a rocket attack narrowly missing Afghan leaders attending prayers in the capital Tuesday, to have 500 to 1,500 fighters and be focusing on the capital, Kabul.

And al-Qaeda, who U.S. forces chased from the country after 9/11, now have a presence in at least 15 of the country's 34 provinces. They're fighting alongside the Taliban and appear to be counting on a military victory.

FITTON-BROWN: That gives him time in which to stabilize, to continue to use Afghanistan as a platform, and then, in the longer term, to review whether it's possible to use it as a platform, also, for international attacks.

ROBERTSON: Twenty years on from the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda's then-No. 2, now its chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is thought to be unwell. His expected replacement, Saif al-Adel, the report says, is in Iran, likely assessing if Afghanistan is safe for his return.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London. (END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: German officials say it is unlikely they'll find any more survivors from the recent severe flooding.

At least 176 people are still missing in Germany and Belgium. More than 200 people were killed.

Experts say extreme weather events, like the flooding and wildfires in the U.S. and Canada, are a sure sign of climate change.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says more needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions and address the climate crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): A lot has been done, and we shouldn't act like nothing has been accomplished. But, compared to the goal of getting under 2 degrees, or close to 1.5 degrees Celsius, not enough has happened. This doesn't apply only to Germany but many other countries, globally. And that's why we need to speed this up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, UNESCO is scheduled to vote soon on whether to officially label the Great Barrier Reef as in danger. Australia is lobbying hard against the move, which could threaten the site's world heritage status.

CNN's Anna Coren is following developments from Hong Kong. She joins me now.

And Anna, the U.N. and Australia, they've been facing off over this "in danger" rating. Tell us what's happening today.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. Australia fighting it very hard, going to extraordinarily lengths to lobby other UNESCO committee members not to go along with the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the largest living infrastructure on the planet that can be seen from space, to be listed as in danger.

Let me tell you the lengths that the Australian government is going to and what is behind this.

The environment minister, Susan Ley, has been on an eight-day jaunt around the world. She traveled to Hungary, to Spain, France, Oman, Maldives, just to name a few countries, to lobby these committee members. She's been on a government plane, rumored to cost about $4,000 an hour. So, you know, do the math. Taxpayer dollars spent, carbon emissions spent. I mean, it really is quite disgraceful.

What is behind all this? Where are they fighting so hard? At the end of the day, this is about protecting jobs, protecting industry, protecting, specifically, the mining industry. And one industry, one project, I should say, that comes to mind, is

the Carmichael Mine in Queensland, which is a huge, thermal coal mine project, owned by the Adani Group, a massive Indian corporation.

What this mine is going to do is take thermal coal from the earth which, obviously, is the dirty coal. It's not the clean coal. Send it to India to fire power plants. Everywhere else in the world is shutting down these -- these power stations, except for India and China, that are building them at a rate of knots (ph).

So, think of the environmental damage that that is going to do.

But, as in relation to the Great Barrier Reef, where this mine is situated, there is a rail line to the port. That port is located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

[00:25:01]

So, you think of the industrialization. You think of the water pollution, the coal -- the coal barges that will be floating over the Great Barrier Reef. The potential for environmental accidents, if not catastrophes.

So, that is why the Australian government is lobbying so hard to have this decision pushed out until at least 2023.

So Kristie, you imagine the damage that could be done to the reef, you know, over the next 18 months if nothing is done right now.

Australia says this is a political decision, because China is chairing the committee. Obviously, there is bad blood at the moment between Australia and China.

But at the end of the day, Kristie, many people are saying the government more interested in protecting industry than it is in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

STOUT: Yes. So much at stake here, as you pointed out. Mining jobs, tourism revenue, et cetera. But also, a very fragile ecosystem.

Anna Coren, reporting live for us. Anna, thank you so much.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, coming to you live from Hong Kong. Still to come, it is showtime in Japan. The Tokyo 2020 opening games, the ceremony of that, it's just hours away.

But with COVID cases on the rise, could the Olympics become a super- spreader event? We're going to discuss that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back. And more now on our top story.

We are just hours away from watching an Olympic opening ceremony like no other. After a year's delay, what should be a world-unifying event is being overshadowed by COVID fears. The virus is raging across Japan. Tokyo reported nearly 2,000 new infections on Thursday, its highest number since January.

And, a growing number of athletes are watching their Olympic dreams slip away, as they test positive for the virus.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports from Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was never going to be easy. The Olympic Games in the middle of a pandemic, in a city now in a state of emergency. The usual fanfare muted, making way for concerns over COVID-19.

(on camera): While it's true that no country in the world was really prepared for this pandemic, Japan fared better than most. They're an island nation. It wasn't that hard to get people to isolate here. People wore masks without much difficulty. And they also have hundreds of these; akinjos (ph). Think of them like hundreds of CDC's all over the country.

[00:30:02]

(voice-over): I spoke with the director of one of these akinjos (ph), Dr. Itaru Nishizuka.

DR. ITARU NISHIZUKA, DIRECTOR, SUMIDA HEALTH CENTER (through translator): We have been prepared for seven years to prevent risks for the Tokyo Olympics.

GUPTA (on camera): According to a poll, about 80 percent of residents here in Japan did not want the Olympics to happen here at this time. What about you? What do you think?

NISHIZUKA (through translator): In 1964, the last Tokyo Olympics, because Japan lost the war, the games worked as an opportunity for us to come back. In this Olympics, we have Fukushima.

GUPTA (voice-over): He's talking about the nuclear disaster triggered by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake that claimed nearly 20,000 lives.

But coronavirus has been a different type of disaster, putting constant pressure on Japan to battle rising infections and to get vaccines into arms as fast as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The coronavirus cases may rise or fall. So we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.

GUPTA (on camera): Canceling the Olympics at this point seems inconceivable. But there is one thing Dr. Nishizuka does worry about.

NISHIZUKA (through translator): I think Japan can be rated a "C" for its measure against COVID-19.

GUPTA (voice-over): He says, while there are 400 ICU beds in Tokyo, only half are available for COVID-19 patients. That, combined with the rising number of cases and hospitalizations, doesn't leave a lot of room for a surge in a city of 14 million.

(on camera): Is there are criteria by which you would start to become concerned?

DR. BRIAN MCCLOSKEY, COVID-19 ADVISOR TO THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Sure. Mostly what we look at is changes in patterns. So say, if we started to see infection in people who weren't part of the close contact group; if we started to see a rising number of cases. If we started to see the numbers doubling more rapidly than we thought. And particularly if we started to see cases appearing in the local population that seemed to be linked back into the village or vice versa.

GUPTA (voice-over): So far, that hasn't happened.

But for the head of the World Health Organization, the Olympics is a balance. The physical health of a nation versus the mental health of the world.

DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL: May the message of hope resound, resound from Tokyo around the world in every nation, every village and every heart.

Doctor Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, Dr. Scott Miscovich is a family physician and a national consultant for COVID-19 testing. And he joins us now live from Hawaii.

Thank you so much for joining us.

The Tokyo games officially open today. What are your thoughts on this? Will the IOC be able to manage these games safely?

DR. SCOTT MISCOVICH, NATIONAL CONSULTANT, COVID-19 TESTING: Thanks, Kristie.

Yes. As you also probably know, I've been on this show. I was the U.S. Olympic testing director for the Olympic trials here in the United States for almost four months for swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and rugby. So we had extensive experience testing our athletes prior.

Out of all the testing we did in those group events, we had zero Olympic athletes that were positive and did not go on to Tokyo.

Now, I do believe that so far, there is a degree of optimism, because we only have just about 100 athletes that are positive out of 11,000 athletes that will be competing. And they are doing daily tests.

Now, I have a little bit of a beef, because I have the secondary experience, I was the COVID medical director for the SEC sports colleges, and that was for one year. And we had less than 1 percent positivity. They're using saliva antigen tests daily. I'm surprised they aren't

going with the gold standard, the PCR tests daily. That would allow someone to be detected before they were spreading. Antigen tests are fine, but that's before they're spreading.

So there is a chance we could have some super spreaders, but I do believe the games will go on.

STOUT: That's alarming to hear, that they're using saliva tests, not these more robust tests, for the athletes. And it raises the question about super-spreading events that could happen in competition. You know, the athletes when they're out in the field, they're not wearing masks. What is the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during competition?

MISCOVICH: Now, they are doing pre-event testing for everyone. They do that rapid antigen test right before an event, as an attempt to not have someone that is active.

Now, antigen tests, again, are very, very accurate if you're already spewing the virus out of you in many different ways. So they're -- they are having reasonable mitigation efforts in play.

And as you well know, certain sports like equestrian isn't, like, a big risk. But there are certain team sports where they have bigger risks.

One of the things we did in the SEC I'm surprised they didn't do, is the athletes had wristbands on that showed the distance they were from an athlete. So when you wanted to do contact tracing, you had clear, clear data about how close and how frequently they were close.

[00:35:06]

Now, that takes us to what the risk is with Delta. Much more transmissible for smaller respiratory droplets. So they could spread it just with casual contact for 30 seconds to a minute.

So it's a concern. You are actually very right with that, Kristie.

STOUT: So is this going to turn into a super-spreader event?

MISCOVICH: I don't believe so. I do believe they have enough -- enough protocols in play with the daily testing that there still are some loose ends where the people still can sit within three to six feet of each other, and dining and lunch facilities in an indoor basis.

So I do think we're going to have some more positives. I do think, unfortunately, there will probably be some key athletes that will be taken out.

But a true super-spreader event, you know, we have the check team on the airplane. That is now being investigated, with six positives because they took their masks off out of 41.

So we're going to see some challenges. But these games will go on, and the major medals will be handed out.

STOUT: I also wanted to ask you about vaccines and the efficacy of vaccines. Because yes, vaccines work. They work, but there have been these cases of breakthrough infections, especially with this highly- contagious Delta variant.

Is -- does this worry you? What does it mean for public health strategies to fight the virus?

MISCOVICH: Very good point, also. The best study we have now is coming out of England, where they had almost 90,000 positive Delta variants. They had a 10 percent breakthrough in the vaccinated public.

Now, we're also getting some more data that shows that we're going to probably have a little higher risk if you've had J&J to break through.

Now, very much want to highlight: your chances of dying are very, very unlikely if you've been vaccinated. There are some rare cases.

But you are very correct now. We're going to get more breakthrough with Delta for multiple reasons. Slightly less efficacy and also how contagious that virus is.

Remember, 1,260 times the amount of virus produces in the human body with Delta compared to the recent other variants.

So it is a very big concern. There's going to be a lot of discussion of boosters coming up. And we need to have our CDC push that ahead and not take their time.

And I'm a big advocate that we need to start advocating for individuals in our countries to be able to get a blood test, which is available, a spike antibody test to see the connection.

STOUT: Yes, absolutely, it's a discussion that's already been taking place here in Asia among some countries like Thailand, Indonesia. The need for booster shots, like the Moderna vaccine in addition to the more traditional vaccines that they've been using. A much-needed conversation that needs to happen around the world.

Dr. Scott Miscovich, thank you so much for your expertise and your time.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. And still to come, Brazil's populist president is losing a lot of popular support. Why some of Jair Bolsonaro's most vocal supporters are turning on him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: More than 1,000 Brazilians are dying of coronavirus each day. And as the death toll climbs, more Brazilians become outraged about how President Jair Bolsonaro has handled the pandemic.

[00:40:02]

His government has been implicated in corruption allegations, and lawmakers have opened an inquiry that could lead to his impeachment.

Mr. Bolsonaro is losing some of his most passionate fans.

Isa Soares reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CLAUDIA GRAF, FORMER BOLSONARO SUPPORTER: (SINGING)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of president Jair Bolsonaro's most enthusiastic supporters, Ana Claudia Graf, thought the right-wing leader would be Brazil's savior.

GRAF (through translator): He appeared to us as a man who defended the fight against corruption, who defended the family institution, who said he would never allow cronyism, that it would be a different government. I really believed in this thing that was sold to me. I went all in. I fought for it to happen.

SOARES: But two and a half years after Bolsonaro swept to power, this former fan is full of regret.

GRAF (through translator): It was a mistake. It was the biggest mistake of my life.

SOARES: Tired of corruption allegations, devastated by Brazil's COVID death toll, she's become a full-time political activist, demanding her president's impeachment.

GRAF (through translator): I will not shut up. I will fight. I will fight until I take this man out of power.

SOARES: Graf is one of many to lose faith in the country's leader, putting pressure on Bolsonaro ahead of presidential elections next year. The president's disapproval rating is at an all-time high.

For the first time since he took office, more than half of voters now support impeachment proceedings. At issue: his handling of the COVID pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are more than half a million people dead.

SOARES: Bolsonaro, skeptic of lockdowns, masks, and vaccines, once dismissed the virus as a little flu. It's now claimed more than half a million lives in Brazil, the world's second highest death toll. He faces a major Senate investigation.

JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I won't answer to these kinds of people, under no circumstances.

SOARES: The government has also been rocked by corruption allegations over the purchase of COVID vaccines, damaging the image of a president who promised to root out graft.

As anger rises on the streets, former allies turn their backs on the president, disillusioned with a man who swept their party to power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We really imagined that he was tough, that he was honest, and that he was going to fight for everything that was wrong in the republic. But in the end, it turned out to be nothing like that.

SOARES: Juli Bosel (ph) is a federal congressman from Bolsonaro's former party, the PSL. He's backing a fresh impeachment request that has support from lawmakers from the left and right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every day that he is in power advances the process of corruption. He's bleeding the public office and at a time of pandemic, he's not giving a damn, shrugging his shoulders and making fun, mocking death and the lives of Brazilians.

SOARES: But Bolsonaro's critics worry he may not accept defeat next year.

BOLSONARO (through translator): I will hand over the presidential sash to whoever wins the election cleanly. Not with fraud.

SOARES: At a recent bike rally, these Bolsonaris still stand firm, saying their president is a scapegoat, fighting to change the country for the better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They will invent anything that's an excuse. Everything that happens is Bolsonaro's fault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He's being bullied, abused, suffocated, and even so, we're seeing him do things others haven't been able to do in 30 years.

SOARES: The question now: how long Brazil will stand behind its populist leader.

Isa Soares, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and WORLD SPORT starts after the break.

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