Return to Transcripts main page


Simone Biles Withdraws from Some Events; Novak Djokovic Out of Men's Singles; Turkey Wildfires Kill Four. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 00:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warm welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

It is day 8 of the Tokyo Olympics. And Simone Biles, arguably the world's greatest gymnast, has just withdrawn from 2 more events. USA Gymnastics says Biles won't be competing in the vault and uneven bars finals on Sunday. She still could compete in the floor exercise and balance beam events early next week.

Biles says she's been suffering from what gymnasts call the twisties, a debilitating mental block that keeps gymnast from performing moves they've done thousands of times before. They basically lose track of where they are in the air.

Let's talk about all of this with CNN's Andy Scholes right here in Atlanta, Coy Wire in Tokyo.

Let's start with you, Coy. Obviously, a huge shock but it doesn't mean she's completely done, right?

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a good point, Michael. This is the woman who is the biggest star of the Olympic Games, the athlete everyone wants to see, withdrawn from two more events, Sunday's finals in the vault and uneven bars.

She stumbled on the vault earlier here, also after she posted those scary videos of her struggling at practice sessions here in Tokyo as you mentioned.

USA Gymnastics has released a statement, saying, in part quote, "Today after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and uneven bar. She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam.

"We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle the situation with courage and grace and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances," unquote.

Michaela Skinner (ph) replaces Biles in the vault. Here, if we have the video of Biles' practice session Friday morning here in Tokyo, they were scary. When you think about this is the woman who seems to be invincible, she wrote with those videos, saying, "I literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body.

"What's even scarier, since I have no idea where I am in the air, I also have no idea how I'm going to land," Michael.

Those are powerful words. It reminds us of how dangerous and scary the sport can be, especially when you're mentals aren't right, as Simone has called them. You mentioned the twisties, Michael. It's taken her 2 weeks or more in the past for them to go away.

The women's floor final is Monday, the beam final Tuesday. She's already talked about how some of the best times in her career were when she had time off. This is likely the last time we will ever see the greatest of all time competing in the Olympic Games. The world is

waiting to see if Simone Biles will feel well enough to compete again here in Tokyo.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of courage to put herself out like that. Props to her.



HOLMES: Now just when it appears vaccines would end the pandemic, the super aggressive Delta variant threatens to undo all of the progress made so far. First detected last February in India, Delta is driving a global surge of new infections, even affecting some who are fully vaccinated.

The Delta's most fertile ground is among the unvaccinated, including in Australia where less than 20 percent are fully inoculated. Police there are bracing for more possible protests as cases surge and the government calls for more extended lockdowns.

In the United States, just 50 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated. Unless more people get the shots quickly. U.S. President Joe Biden warns that more forceful action could happen.


QUESTION (from captions): Mr. President, can Americans expect more guidelines coming out, more restrictions because of COVID?



HOLMES: Now 33 U.S. states have reported at least 50 percent more COVID cases than the week before. No states have shown a decline.

Health officials in China are implementing new restrictions after 55 new cases were reported on Friday in 6 provinces. Some of them are closing tourist sites and banning mass gatherings. And some have even begun mass testing, including for tourists.

It comes as several other Asian countries are taking action to try to stem further outbreaks.


HOLMES (voice-over): In the warehouse of a Bangkok airport, nearly 2,000 cardboard beds will soon become a field hospital for COVID patients. Thailand's capital already under lockdown as the country reports record new infections this week.

It's just one of several Asian nations seeing dramatic renewed outbreaks and imposing measures to fight a new wave in the pandemic amid a spreading Delta variant. South Korea and Vietnam seeing an all- time high of daily infections in the past week. Tight curbs on public activities and movement in both countries, wrestling to contain outbreaks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

HOLMES (voice-over): On Friday, the Philippine president approved a lockdown in the Manila region. It's expected to cost the economy some $4 billion as the country battles one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the region.

In India's southern state of Kerala, residents prepare for a lockdown in the country's coronavirus hot spot. Overall, India has seen new infections largely level off since a devastating surge in late May. But Friday saw the most new cases in 3 weeks.

India's new cases, however, surpassed by Indonesia, which has become Asia's COVID epicenter. On Wednesday, Indonesia saw more deaths than any other day of the pandemic.

Leaving loved ones to mourn those lost, as coronavirus sets grim records across the region.


HOLMES: And terrifying scenes in southern Turkey as people try to escape a raging wildfire. More than a dozen fires are burning along the Mediterranean coast. Turkish officials say at least 4 people have been killed.

The fire is so large, it's visible on satellites, as you can see there. Experts say climate change is helping the fires spread. A number of resorts and dozens of villages have been ordered to be evacuated.



HOLMES: The first group of Afghan interpreters who worked alongside American troops have finally arrived in the United States. It's only about 200. They traveled to Fort Lee, Virginia, on Friday and that includes a special immigrant visa applicants and family members as well.

In a statement, President Joe Biden thanked them for standing with the U.S. during the nation's longest war and said he's proud to tell them to come home. Here's the thing. That is just a tiny fraction of the roughly 20,000 Afghan applicants, who are still waiting their turn; 80,000 if you count their close family members.

And they, of course, fear deadly retribution from the Taliban. Some have already been killed. About half of those are in the very beginning stages of a brutally long bureaucratic process.

Finally, African wild dogs have returned to Malawi after a historic mission to reintroduce the endangered species was successful; 14 of the dogs were transported from South Africa and Mozambique, making a long journey by both air and road.

They will now spend the next two weeks in special enclosures to adjust to their surroundings before being fully released into wider park areas. Only around 700 breeding pairs are estimated to be left on the continent. Officials involved in the project have called this a, quote, "extremely proud moment."

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Stick around for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" and I will see you a little bit later.