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The Delta Variant is Surging Around the World Causing Concern; Florida Epicenter of COVID-19 Surge in the U.S.; India and China Battling with Lockdown and Restrictions; Making History at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; Belarusian Olympic Sprinter Seeks Asylum; Hero's Welcome for Gold Medal Winner in Tunisia; Delta Variant Fuels Surge In Cases And Global Concerns; Australia's Queensland Extends Stay-At-Home Orders; Fires Force Sea Evacuations On Turkey's Southwest Coast. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 2, 2021 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi. Welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. So ahead on the show, surging cases, the more contagious delta variant and not enough vaccines. The world desperately struggles to contain the pandemic.

A Belarusian Olympic athlete seeks political asylum after being removed from competition. What we are learning about the unexpected event in Tokyo. Also, a young woman's attempt to set a new record by flying around the world by herself in a micro light airplane.

The highly contagious delta variant is fueling global concerns and a growing surge in cases as more health experts warn things are going to get worse. Take a look at these numbers. Here's a look at the 7-day average with the U.S. among the countries seeing a real jump in infections here.

To date, there has been nearly 200 million cases worldwide, more than 4 million people have died. Now, these new outbreaks and the ease of transmission have some officials re-imposing restrictions. And while vaccines have been and vaccinations have been lagging, we are seeing an uptick in shots in parts of the U.S. That is for sure.

Now, this comes as some countries also are looking ahead to boosters. The U.K. is preparing for a possible third COVID vaccine shot from September. It's all part of an effort to prolong protection especially in those who are the most vulnerable.

Now, the delta variant is also behind a surge in new cases and hospitalizations throughout the U.S. Right now, every state is reporting more new infections compared to the previous week. But, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 99.99 percent of people who are fully vaccinated against the virus will not be hospitalized or die from it. That's important to note. The data highlights what experts and officials have said for months.

Vaccines are very, very effective at preventing serious illness and death, and it's really the best shot at slowing down this pandemic. One encouraging sign, on Saturday, it marked the 5th straight day of more than 700,000 shots in arms. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is a start, but it's not enough. Take a listen.

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ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't think we're going to see lockdowns. I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country, not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to not allow us to get into this situation we were in last winter. But, things are going to get worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Overall, slightly less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Meantime, New York City is expected to announce updated mask guidelines in the coming hours. The city is certainly weighing whether or not to adopt the CDC's indoor masking recommendations.

Florida, meanwhile, has become a new epicenter of the surge. The state accounts for nearly one in five of all new cases in the entire country. Randi Kaye is in Florida and she breaks down the numbers. Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the past week or so, we have seen more than 110,000 new cases here in the state of Florida of COVID. The daily average is about 15,800. And over the weekend, we set a record for the most new cases in a single day since the pandemic began with 21,683 new cases on Saturday.

And if you look at how Florida is contributing to the number of cases around the country, 19.2 percent of all new COVID cases reported in the U.S. are right here in Florida, mainly South Florida. Also, we are experiencing similar numbers to what we saw back in January, really at the height of the pandemic.

Florida also still just about 49 percent of the population here is fully vaccinated. So, still a ways to go. There is also a lot of concerns about schools reopening and what's happening to children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. If you look at the numbers there, cases among that age group under 12, nearly 11,000 children in the last week or so testing positive under 12 years old for COVID.

The positivity rate for that age group now is 18.1 percent. The statewide positivity rate is 18.2 percent. And the governor here says that you cannot mandate masks in the classroom when the students return.

[02:04:59]

He has issued an executive order saying that you cannot do that. He wants it to be up to the parents. He wants the parents to have the choice whether or not they want to mask their children. He says any district who defies his executive order could risk losing funding, could possibly become ineligible for grants.

So, the governor, certainly pushing hard to avoid any mask mandates and keep the state wide open. I'm Randi Kaye reporting in Riviera Beach, Florida. Back to you.

CURNOW: Thanks, Randi, for that. So to Asia now, some parts of India and China are struggling to contain a surge in COVID cases there. The Indian state of Kerela imposed a lockdown over the weekend after experiencing an alarming rise in infections. On Sunday alone, it reported over 20,000 new COVID cases and at least 56 deaths.

And then in China, officials are trying to contain a COVID outbreak that started in Nanjing Airport, but has now spread to 11 provinces. I want to go to Beijing's Steven Jiang. He is standing by with more on that. Hi, Steven. What can you tell us about this outbreak?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, hi Robyn. You know, Sunday, the government recorded 99 new locally confirmed cases. Obviously, this number pales in comparison to what we are seeing in many parts of the world including in the U.S.

But in this country they haven't seen this level of infection for months, which is why the central leadership has sent a vice premier to Nanjing supervise the local official response to this outbreak. And now, she was the same senior official they sent to Wuhan in the beginning of this pandemic. That's how seriously concerned they feel about the spread of this new cluster, which as you were saying, shows no sign of abating with new case being reported by local officials throughout the day.

And now impacting not just airport staff but also airline crews, school children, tourist and the doctors and nurses across China. That's why increasingly we are seeing local authorities re-impose draconian measures we haven't seen for a long time, which means millions of Chinese people are now, again, being confined to their homes as the government has designated more than 90 so-called high or medium risk areas.

And this is also of course happening in the middle of the peak summer travel season. That doesn't help things as we are increasingly seeing more and more tourist attractions and airports being shut down as well as local officials, including those here in Beijing, warning or at least advising residents not to leave town.

And here in the Chinese capital, they have really tightened entry requirements and effectively banning people from high or medium risk areas from entering the city by suspending all transportation links to these areas.

And as of now, the leadership here is really sticking to their current approach, which is zero tolerance to these locally transmitted cases. And do expect to see more lockdowns and a sharp decline in domestic travel. Robyn? CURNOW: Okay. Thanks for that update. Appreciate it. Steven Jiang

there live in Beijing.

So coming up on CNN, an Olympic sprinter came to Tokyo to win for her country. And now she is hoping for asylum. That story, next.

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[02:10:00]

Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. So, day 10 of the Olympics is underway in Tokyo, but before we get to the action today, we do want to recap some of the biggest moments so far. Joining me now is Philip Barker from Tokyo. He is an Olympic historian for Inside the Games.

Philip, hi. Good to see you and thank you very much for joining us. It's the start, the beginning of the new week in these really strange times for the Olympics. What has defined it so far for you?

PHILIP BARKER, OLYMPIC HISTORIAN FOR INSIDE THE GAMES: Well, it's been an Olympics where we haven't had crowds, and yet the theme is being coming together. So many of these athletes are being to train in isolation over the last year and actually being able to get out there and compete.

It's been a big boom for them. And one of the things that I've noticed is the emergence of so many new nations on to the podium. We had Flora Duffy of Bermuda winning the triathlon early in the competition. And then later on, we just had a stream of new nations that we are not used to seeing on the podium.

Last night, I saw Artem Dolgopyat of Israel winning on the floor in the gymnastics apparatus finals. And this was something that had a wonderful effect and the television people from Israel (ph) were up behind us. And when the national anthem was played, they were singing their hearts out. And it was clearly, it meant everything to them and they told me that it basically stopped the traffic back in Tel Aviv. Everybody was watching this final.

And so many countries that you don't normally see it on the podium. Only this morning, I saw Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico winning the 100 meters hurdles in the Olympic stadium. So, new names on the podium. And Yulimar Rojas, triple jump world record last night to win gold. First woman from Venezuela ever to do so. So, it really has been in with the new, new countries making their way, making an Olympic statement.

CURNOW: It certainly has. And also some new sports. Tell us about those because there is surfing, skateboarding. How has that gone down?

BARKER: Well, things have gone down very well. The Japanese of course, were absolutely delighted when they won the first skateboarding gold medal. And we've had surfing. We've also got the 3 on 3 basketball, which a lot of these sports were tried out at the youth Olympic Games and then upgraded when they saw that they could be a success to the Olympics.

And we've also had another twist on mixed sports. Now, obviously, you have mixed doubles in tennis and the equestrian even are always mixed, but this time we have mixed triathlon, which was a relay event with two men and two women.

And it proved to be a real hit down on the waterfront there. And Great Britain won the gold medal, but the race was (inaudible) throughout and we've had other events as well.

[02:14:59]

Mixed judo and a wonderful story there of redemption for Teddy Riner, the giant French judoka who had won two Olympic gold medals in succeeding games, and then came here and unexpectedly lost in the quarterfinals of the individual.

He came back and his teammates told me he was the ultimate inspiration. The great flat mate, not just a legend, but an ordinary guy who was inspiring his teammates. But when they won gold, the whole team, frustrated themselves on the floor, on the Olympic rings, to kiss the Olympic rings, and to celebrate their triumph. A wonderful moment.

CURNOW: So, and that is the whole point of the Olympics particularly I suppose in times like this. All those individual moments, the highs, and the lows, I suppose. In previous Olympics and, you know, I've been doing this job for many, many years, decades, and certainly the last few Olympics I've reported on and anchored have involved, really, sad conversations about doping, in particular, Russian state-sponsored doping, defining previous games.

Russian athletes are still performing where you are in Tokyo right now, winning medals though, even though this country is banned. Is that a sign of the IOC's failure to punish doping or a sign that things have cleaned up?

BARKER: Well, the thing is, the athletes who came here are notionally clean. One of the things that has confused us all is that, normally, when a national Olympic committee, which governs the sport Olympic events is banned, then the athletes are allowed still to compete if they are clean as individual Olympic athletes or independent Olympic athletes under the Olympic flag.

(Inaudible) we saw the Pyeongchang Olympic athlete from Russia, and here it's Russian Olympic Committee. And they were allowed to wear uniforms that don't have the word Russia on them, but they do have the, you know, basically in the national colors.

And when they win a medal, we get Tchaikovsky, the piano concerto, and you couldn't get more Russian than that. So, a lot of accommodations have been made for the Russian team that would've say, have been made for smaller countries.

I know that when India were excluded from the Sochi Winter Olympics, they weren't allowed to carry their flag at the opening ceremony. And this is generally the punishment that the athlete has to compete under the Olympic flag, and same with the Kuwaitis. So, it does seem to be that there is one rule for one country, and one rule for another.

CURNOW: Philip Barker, great to see you. I know you've got to go. You've got a number of events that you've got to report on and be there, but thank you very much for joining us. Great to get your expertise. Thank you very much.

BARKER: Thank you.

CURNOW: So try as they might, the Olympics can't divorce themselves from global politics. And we just touched at a little bit on that with that interview. A Belarusian sprinter is asking for asylum. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says she has been forced to withdraw from the Olympics and that officials in Belarus are trying to send her back to Minsk, where she is afraid she will be jailed.

Well, joining me now, World Sport's Patrick Snell here in Atlanta and Blake Essig in Tokyo. Blake, hi. First to you. What is the latest on Tsimanouskaya?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, a Belarusian sprinter, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, was supposed to be competing in the women's 200 meter race tonight inside the new national stadium. Instead, Robyn, the 24-year-old posted this video on social media pleading for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRYSTSINA TSIMANOUSKAYA, BELARUSAIN OLYMPIC ATHLETE (through translation): I ask the International Olympic Committee for help. I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent. I ask the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ESSIG: And Tsimanouskaya says that she was given one hour to pack her things and was ordered to fly back to Minsk immediately. She was removed from competition according to a statement released by the Belarus Olympic Committee due to her emotional and psychological state, but the sprinter says that's not true.

This all happened just a few days after she posted the video criticizing her coaches and the Belarus National Sporting Authority late last week. She posted this video on social media where she alleged that she was included on a list to run the 4x400 meter relay behind her back and without her consent.

Now, this is an event which she has not prepared for. Tsimanouskaya also said that she was forcibly taken to Haneda Airport by members of the Belarus National Team. Once there, she approached a Japanese police officer and said she would like to apply for political asylum.

Overnight, the sprinter was secured by police in a special shelter near the airport. And according to the IOC, she feels safe and secure. They addressed her situation earlier today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ADAMS, IOC SPOKESPERSION: We talked again to her this morning to understand what those next steps could be, what she wants to pursue and we will give her support in that decision.

[02:19:58]

As I say, she is in the hands of the authorities at the moment. We have also asked the Belarus embassy for a full written report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ESSIG: In an interview with the Belarusian sports news site on Sunday, Tsimanouskaya said that she fears arrest if she returns to her home country. Her current location in Tokyo is unknown at this time and so far, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Poland, have all offered the sprinter visas.

We expect her to make a decision on where she would like to apply for asylum at some point today. And Robyn, CNN has reached out to Tsimanouskaya and the Belarus Olympic Committee for comment. We have received no response from either party at this point.

CURNOW: Okay, well, do keep us posted. This is an important story. Thank you so much. Blake Essig there in Tokyo.

And of course, we are also talking about the sporting action on the fields and on the tracks. Patrick Snell is here for that. And hey, Patrick, good to see you, and a pretty big day for Italy.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Robyn, great to see you too. Yes, absolutely. The summer of Italian sport, I think this is fair to say, just got a whole lot better didn't it after the country's football team, remember, they won the European Championships last month in England.

They could now say they have officially the fastest man in the world. Lamont Marcell Jacobs shocking the field by winning the 100 meters. An incredible achievement for a man. This is why it's so incredible, Robyn. The fact that he was competing in long jump until he switched three years ago, just an amazing story.

He is the first European to win the prestigious event since Linford Christie back in 1992. And he celebrated in the arms of his compatriot, Gianmarco Tamberi, who just won gold in the high jump. That image is absolutely priceless. Wonderful to see. And it leads me on very nicely indeed to (inaudible) that men's high jump that we also discovered -- this is one of the best stories of the Olympics so far in my opinion. No question about that.

There was actually two winners in this contest here, Tamberi and the Qatari jumper, Mutaz Essa Barshim. They went up against each other for two hours and both have made their best jump of the competition at 2 meters 37. They were offered a jump off, but no, what happened? We get this wonderful moment of sportsmanship, Robyn. They actually asked for two gold medals, splitting the prize and making history. The first joint winners in Olympic athletics since 1912.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUTAZ ESSA BARSHIM, SHARED OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST (QATAR): You know, once we finished with that 2.39 jump, he looked at me, I looked at him, we just understood. There was no need to go. It wasn't even a question.

GIANMARCO TAMBERI, SHARED OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST (ITALY): Probably I would never ever share a gold medal with anybody else than Mutaz because we passed -- were the only two athletes there, passed through the worst injury a high jumper can pass through. And, I know what he did to be back. He know what I did to be back. And you can't believe the emotion, the dream of a gold medal to somebody who sacrificed his entire life for this. And it was just amazing. And sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. Thank you.

BARSHIM: We both celebrate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNELL: It's a wonderful story, isn't it? Well, a short while ago, this (inaudible) I can tell you that Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho- Quinn, celebrating a truly golden moment. This is after winning the women's 100 meter hurdles in a time of 12.37 seconds.

Camacho-Quinn claiming Puerto Rico's first medal of these Olympics and second ever Olympic track and field medal. The United States' Kendra Harrison earning silver and Jamaican Megan Tapper sealing bronze.

And I do want to squeeze this story and it's really historic for Greek sport, Robyn. Miltiadis Tentoglou winning the men's long jump gold with a jump of 8.41 meters. Cuba's Juan Miguel Echevaria also jumping that distance, but Tentoglou winning by a tie breaker. This due to a longer second best jump. I mentioned it was historic because its Greece's first ever medal in the men's long jump on a busy Monday so far and it's going to get even busier as well as I send it back to you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, thank you so much for sharing all those stories. It just makes me smile. I'm sure it makes us all smile and it touches a lot of people around the world. Just those individual moments of sheer joy. I think we all need it. Patrick, lovely to see you my friend, thank you.

So, one of -- here is another one. One of the biggest stunners of the game so far as well, Tunisian swimmer, Ahmed Hafnaoui, winning gold in the men's 400 meter freestyle. He's not just the fourth athlete representing Tunisia to win Olympic gold in any sport and for a country rocked by a political turmoil and the COVID pandemic. His victory was certainly very, very welcome news back home. Michael Holmes has a story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST (voice-over): A hero's welcome for a Tunisian swimmer who brought home Olympic gold in a shocking win that surprised his competitors, the sporting world, and even himself. Eighteen-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui was the longest of long shots.

[02:24:56]

The slowest qualifier for the men's 400 meter freestyle, but he outswam the favorites to get the gold and even more stunning, is he did it from the outside lane.

I felt shivers when I heard the national anthem, Hafnaoui says, adding, I am very honored.

Tunisia's newest media star is a welcome distraction for the country suffering from a stagnant economy made worse by a surge of coronavirus that's overwhelming hospitals, and an escalating political crisis. The nation's president recently dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days.

But despite the chaos and uncertainty in government, many Tunisians celebrating Hafnaoui's win as a bright spot during a difficult period. Even one of swimming's greats, Michael Phelps, called the performance an unbelievable swim.

Neighbors poured out in the street to greet the newly minted champion. As one man says, seeing him touch that wall first was a win for everyone.

When I was watching, I cannot tell you how we felt at this final moment, he says. This is the feeling of every Tunisian. An underdog going from lane 8 to the top of the podium, giving much needed hope to the country that he returns to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks to Michael for that story.

So, a popular tourist spot in Tokyo has now evacuated thousands of people by boat to escape raging wildfires. But in some places, residents are staying to fight for all they have. We have their story, next.

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[02:29:57]

CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. Its 29 minutes past the hour. Thanks very much for joining me, all of our viewers here in the United States, and all around the world.

[02:30:00]

So global concerns and growing COVID cases as highly contagious Delta variant drives a rapid surge worldwide. The U.S. is among the country seeing a real jump in infections over the past week.

Now new outbreaks and the ease of transmission and some officials around the globe reimposing restrictions. COVID lockdown restrictions in Australia's Queensland province are being extended for another week. Initial stay-at-home orders though were meant to run through Monday but the States deputy premier says the initial lockdown was insufficient.

This of course comes as the Delta variant is spreading significantly along the country's East Coast States. Well, joining me now from Sydney is Angus Watson. Angus hi. Sydneysiders where you are have been cooped up for weeks now. Infections are rising, the Army's being called out, vaccination rates are extremely low. How angry are people right now?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: People are frustrated Robyn, particularly as you just mentioned, vaccination rates are very low. People feel like this is the lockdown that Sydney in particular might not have had to have if the federal government had done a better job of getting jabs into people's arms. Australia has vaccinated under 20 percent of its population.

That's dangerously under vaccinated Robyn, considering the pace at which the Delta variant is moving through communities here in Australia, and of course right around the world. To give a sense of just how quickly the Delta variant has moved here in Sydney, just six weeks ago, we started out with one case, the case of a limousine driver whose job was to ferry people from airlines back to their hotels.

That person caught the Delta Varian six weeks later, three and a half 1000 people have it so on Friday, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison finally gave the nation a target of 70 percent of people fully vaccinated, adults fully vaccinated to get to a stage where these lockdowns might have to happen less frequently.

That target has sped up the vaccination rates people are turning up to get their vaccines to do their bit and hopefully Robyn put lockdowns like the one we have here in Sydney behind us, once and for all.

CURNOW: And all of this none of this is helped by misinformation which is why YouTube has actually done something quite extraordinary and is banned Sky News Australia for spreading misinformation. I think it's just for a week, it could be extended. But the message is clear here, isn't it? It's pretty extraordinary.

WATSON: That - That's right, Robyn, it is extraordinary from mainstream television station here in Australia to be told by YouTube that it can't upload to its YouTube channel because it's spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Now Sky News Australia is known for its right wing editorials. It's owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

And people have gone on the air on Sky News, and they've criticized authorities here in Australia for having these lockdowns now YouTube says that means that it's had one strike that it's spreading misinformation that shouldn't be allowed to upload to its YouTube channel for six, seven days, Robyn. Let's see if that gets prolonged.

CURNOW: Yes, it's fascinating. Rupert Murdoch, of course, as you say owning Sky News Australia Angus Watson there in one of my favorite parts of Sydney on the North Shore near where I used to live. Thank you very much, beautiful day there. OK, so at least eight people are dead from wildfires which are burning along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, more than 1100 people had to be evacuated for the second day in a row on Sunday from Bodrum.

Favorite tourist site for many people, most evacuations were done by boat to keep roads open for emergency vehicles. Well, Arwa Damon joins me now from Istanbul with more on these fires are well, I know you've got a report for us. And if you could just explain to us what you saw, what people told you.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, look, the Turkish Government is saying that they have most of these fires under control. The problem is that the ones that they don't have under control, they are raging with multiple points. And so now we have additional assistance that has been coming in over the last few days from Russia, Azerbaijan, the European Union is going to be sending a number of aircraft because what all of this has highlighted is just how woefully unprepared Turkey is to combat these types of Wild - widespread wildfires.

And so what we have been seeing is villagers themselves fighting with everything they have to try to protect their homes and their livelihoods.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: (inaudible) can barely breathe. Barely shout the words. Her father's land is burning. Let it burn, we're going to burn too, her relative responds. She's frantic, where to go, what to do? What can they save? For days the flames have been leaping closer and closer to this tiny village on Turkey's Southern Mediterranean coast. It's as if they're fighting a monster that keeps coming to life, each time they dare to hope it's dead.

Everything is going to burn. (Inaudible) tells us our land our animals, our house. What else do we have anyway?

[02:35:00]

Despite this being close to popular seaside tourist destinations, these villagers don't have much and what they have, they cherish, they take pride in. A small band of men from here and other areas trudges do the easily flammable fields. They take control of the firefighters' hopes, it's so hot out, it feels like the water evaporates almost as quickly as it is sprayed.

Trees are felled, to stop the things from growing and sparks flying into other areas. They are fighting a beast, they may not be able to beat. The last of the children are sent away. How should I feel? We haven't slept for three days, this woman tries to tell us. They are so understandably upset, and so angry that they're actually

finding our questions of how they're feeling, what they're thinking to be absolutely ridiculous and I get it. For what can one even think even say when they are watching everything they own in life about to go up in flames.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: And Robyn, we spoke to people in the area who told us that thankfully, the fire shifted away from moving towards the village largely because the winds have shifted, but it is still gobbling up the forest and heading towards another small village as well. And that is really what we were witnessing there. It would seem as if the minute they would have one portion of the fire or one point, fire point under control, another one would just emerge.

And as you saw on that report, people are angry, they're frustrated, they're sad, and they really want to know why it is that the government wasn't better prepared or didn't call out for more assistance earlier on.

CURNOW: And also another example of climate change, which just seems inevitable. Thank you very much. Arwa Damon, great reporting, thanks for bringing us their stories. So a coastal Colombian town is facing a humanitarian crisis. 1000s of migrants from a number of countries are stranded, hoping to make the long journey to the United States Stefano Pozzebon is on location and he's there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: It's barely dawn when a group of migrants start lining up for a seat on the boats to travel from the coastal Colombian town of Nicocli, towards Panama. These pristine Caribbean beaches, usually packed with tourists from around the world, have recently become a passageway for 1000s of migrants from all over South America, and even Africa, looking for better opportunities, 1000s of miles away in the United States.

People from Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, and even as far as Ghana across the Gulf of Uraba, and then set on a treacherous and violent journey through a 37 mile stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama, joining the 1000s of other migrants heading to Mexico and then to the United States and ignoring the Biden Administration's don't come message to migrants.

Here we met the Edem Agbanzo a chef from Togo who migrated to Chile to work as a gardener.

EDEM AGBANZO, MIGRANT FROM TOGO: And then - and then the pandemic happened and then when the pandemic happened, it's like, it's like our - it was - I don't know ie was suffering.

POZZEBON: Edem says this is his third journey seeking a better future. In 2018, he left his parents behind in his native Togo, to move to Ghana to work in the kitchens. Then in 2018, he left Ghana and flew to the other side of the world to Chile. Now at 30, his hopes are set on another country.

Where in the United States you want to go?

AGBANZO: Georgia.

POZZEBON: Georgia.

AGBANZO: Because I have some family in Georgia. And I hope that because the problem is the fact that if you went to the border of the USA, the authority is going to ask you some question. And you have to - they have to know if you have somebody in USA or no.

POZZEBON: But the road to the United States is perilous. Minutes before recording this interview, Edem and his friend Victor Tengez discovered that they had been robbed. They had spent the night in a boat on the beach and found their belongings scattered and searched through. They had their passports and money with them. But some of their food was stolen.

Edem and Victor are waiting for the next boat ride and like many others had no other choice than spending the night on the beach. Some were able to stay in hotels, a safer choice, but a more expensive one. Waiting here costs a lot when you cannot work and don't know when you will leave, says Georgina Duclon, a Haitian mother who lived in Brazil for six years before the Pandemic and is now traveling with her two children.

[02:40:00]

In these remote small town, transports are limited. There is just one boat company crossing the Gulf from Nicoli to the port of Capurgana. And they are completely sold out. Other boat companies are hours away.

EDWARD VILLAREAL, CARBE SAS FERRY COMPANY: It's hard. We tried to transport like 800-900 people for day, you know, but it's hard.

POZZEBON: The fare costs $20 and the company says he has a backlog of more than 8000 migrants who have already paid their trip and are waiting for their turn. Some fear it might take up to 10 days to leave.

Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano visited Nicocli last weekend, pledging the Navy will provide the temporary pirates who allow more boats to take the migrants to the other side of the Gulf. But the government's offer might be too little and a bit too late as more migrants continue to arrive here in Necocli on a daily basis, putting heavy load on this small community.

The few who have made it on the boats feel relief, but for all of them, this is just one part of the journey.

AGBANZO: I think we got to join Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Nicaragua, any other country.

POZZEBON: Hope is just a feeble flame at the end of the road. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Nicocli. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Thanks to Stefano, great piece there. So the Taliban are poised to seize their first provincial capital in Afghanistan. There is heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. Local journalists say the Taliban controls several districts of the city.

The Afghan Military is brought in Special Forces and carried out airstrikes. The UN refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting across Afghanistan. And still to come, a teen has set her sights on becoming the youngest female pilot to fly around the world alone. We'll have her story, that's next.

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[02:45:00]

CURNOW: Welcome back. Olympian Tom Daley is going viral. This time not for his impressive diving skills but for knitting. Yes, take a look at this image. The champion was spotted knitting in the crowd, passing the time between dives during the Woman's Springboard Final. Daley seemed amused by his photo circulating on social media commentating caught red handed LOL.

Last week his knitting skills were also front and center when he made a special pouch to stop to stop his gold medal from getting scratched. Well done him Now many people wanted Japan to cancel the Olympics as you well know. But now they are underway and the country's Olympians are lifting people's spirits with a gold rush, in fact.

A record 17 gold medals so far for Japan, Selina Wang sat down with one of the athletes. Selina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YUI OHASHI, JAPAN SWIMMER (through translator): I came this far dreaming of winning a gold medal.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Swimmer YUI Ohashi has helped lead the host nation's gold rush.

YOHASHI (through translator): But I never thought for a moment that I could win a gold medal even though I had imagined it.

WANG: Ohashi didn't win just one gold medal but two, making history as the first Japanese woman to accomplish this at a single Olympics. And that is just the start for Japan. It has already wrapped up 17 gold medals more than it's ever won before and meddled in debut Olympic events like skateboarding and surfing.

These games have been very controversial in Japan. But now the public is getting inspired by the incredible performance of athletes like yourself. What do you think the legacy of these Olympics will be?

YOHASHI (through translator): Athletes also had to deal with the voices of opposition to the Olympics and the question of whether or not the Olympics should really be held. We, the athletes went into the Olympics with a great deal of confusion, but I've received a lot of comments from people who said they were moved by athletes winning gold medals and other medals, seeing athletes trying so hard so I'm very happy about that.

WANG: As the public cheers on its nation's athletes like Ohashi, the intense opposition to the game seems to be softening. According to Olympic broadcasting services, more than 70 million people tuned into the Olympic opening ceremony in Japan, making it the most watched event in 10 years.

Before the Olympic started there were many issues, he told me, but once it started, I thought I should support it as a Japanese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There does have to be a separator between criticism of the Olympics and criticism of the athletes. I think Japan is always behind its athletes, a 100 percent, any sport, any discipline, any tournament. But these Olympics are still complicated.

WANG: Complicated might be an understatement, as COVID-19 continues to cast a shadow over these games. We don't feel like having a festival mood, she told me, I know there are people suffering from COVID while people are excited about the Olympics.

Despite this, Japan still has the home country advantage.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Even though there's no fans cheering for them, they still know that they're in their home country. And I think because of COVID and because the games were postponed for a year, I think there's almost an added sense of like do it for your country that maybe there's even more of a push to say, hey, you know, we've been struggling and there's a lot of issues here in our country. But we're going to show the world that we can win gold medals.

WANG: But taking the gloss off of Japan's Golden Week with the end of Naomi Osaka's Olympic journey. Osaka the face of the Tokyo 2020 games, who lit the cauldron during the opening ceremony was eliminated in the third round.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I was really cheering for her since she's the you know, the best athlete here in Japan.

WANG: Still, these games have offered new heroes who hope the golden legacy of Tokyo 2020 will outweigh the costs of these Pandemic Olympics.

KANOA IGARASHI. OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST, JAPAN SURFING: I really didn't realize the impact sport has on a country until this week. From the opening ceremony to just social media and it's just seeing how much a sport can bring together not just the country but the whole world.

WANG: Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CURNOW: Next on CNN, a young pilot looks to make history and blaze the trail for women everywhere as she gets ready for record breaking flight around the world.

[02:50:00]

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CURNOW: Welcome back. So a 19-year old pilot is set to become the youngest woman to make a solo flight around the world. To some it may seem daunting, but Zara Rutherford, it's all about reaching new heights. Kim Brunhuber has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a bid to level the playing field for women in aviation, a 19-year old is taking charge. Zara Rutherford may be young, but she's ready to soar off on an almost 30,000 nautical miles solo flight circling the globe. If she succeeds, this Belgian British National will become the youngest woman ever to fly solo around the world, and the youngest person ever to do it in a microlight airplane.

ZARA RUTHERFORD, PILOT: So growing up, I didn't really see many female pilots or female so computer scientists, those are two of my passions. And it's quite discouraging when there's no one that you know, can relate to you there on any of these things. So then I wanted to fly around the world hopefully have other girls see me and think I'd love to fly one day too.

BRUNHUBER: Rutherford will be flying a customized Shark Ultralight, which is one of the sponsors of her flight. The route will begin in Brussels taking her across the Atlantic over Greenland and the Americas, traveling as far as South as Colombia and Venezuela. She'll then turn North toward the Bering Strait where she'll cross into Russia and flyover South in Southeast Asia.

[02:55:00]

Then across Africa and the Middle East before returning home. She says the journey should take two or three months. Her mission to close the gender gap in aviation.

RUTHERFORD: There is a difference in aviation between men and women. There's a lot less women in aviation, about commercial pilots 5 percent are women, which is I mean ridiculously small.

BRUNHUBER: Rutherford takes after her parents both of whom are pilots. Her mother Beatrice de Smet says she's nervous but proud.

BEATRICE DE SMET, ZARA'S MOTHER: When she first told me about it, my heart skipped a beat. And it took me a bit of time to digest and - and now I'm so proud and fully fully behind her. But as I said, mixed feelings.

BRUNHUBER: Rutherford hopes this trip can inspire other girls to follow her path, both in life and in the air. Kim Brunhuber, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: And stay tuned to CNN, next hour when my colleague Rosemary Church actually speaks with Zara Radford. Well, that wraps up this hour of CNN Newsroom. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. You can follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @RobynCurnowCNN. There it is on your screen right now. Rosemary Church, as I said, picks up after the short break.

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