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U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles Returns in Balance Beam Final; Poland Offers Belarusian Sprinter Humanitarian Visa; Iran Supreme Leader to Confirm Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday; Haiti's First Lady Describes Night of Husband's Murder; China Scrambling to Contain Spread of Delta Variant; Qatari and Italian High Jumpers Share Gold in Final; Athletes Increasingly Prioritizing Mental Health. Aired 1-1:45a ET

Aired August 3, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour --


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel like your life, right now, is at risk?

MARTINE MOISE, HAITI'S FIRST LADY: Yeah, it is, because I wasn't supposed to be alive.


VAUSE: CNN's exclusive interview with the first lady of Haiti. Living in constant fear for her life, she relives the shocking moment before her husband was murdered.

The COVID outbreak that could mean lockdowns for parts of China.

And also ahead, heartwarming acts of kindness at the Tokyo Games. Could this be a watershed moment for the Olympics?


VAUSE: Less than 4 hours, one of the greatest moments of all-time will once again, competing for gold.

For Simone Biles, the finals of the balance beam won't be her last chance for a medal in Tokyo, after withdrawing from 4 individual events of mental health concerns. Biles already has a silver to her name, after the team event, which saw the U.S. play second to Russia.

Tokyo was only her second Olympics. In Rio, she won four gold and a bronze, making her the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast in history.

CNN's Blake Essig is live for us this hour in Tokyo. World Sport anchor Patrick Snell is here in Atlanta. But, Blake, we go to you first. No doubt that the excitement, the anticipation, is building.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, very exciting. Just a few hours from now, Simone Biles, arguably the greatest gymnast of all- time, is set to make a dramatic return to Olympic competition right here behind me, at the Ariake Gymnastics Center. And she'll do it on the balance beam.

Before these games started, Biles had a chance to win six gold medals, and was a heavy favorite to win at least for, but so, far she will only take home a silver. That's okay, she doesn't have anything to prove to anyone, but withdrawing from competition to focus on her mental health, means so much more to her legacy, and the sports world as a whole, versus winning a few more gold medals.

Biles last competed a little more than a week ago, during the women's team final of course. She withdrew herself after stumbling on the vault, citing mental health concerns. Bile said, she has been struggling with the twisties, the mental health block in gymnastics where competitors lose track of their positioning midair, the twisties may sound innocent enough, but for a gymnast, the disconnect between body, and, mind twisting through the air at high speeds, and at a great height, is incredibly dangerous.

As a result, Biles withdrew from an additional 4 competitions at these games, the all around vault, uneven bars, and floor. So, while it is unclear that we would see Biles back on the mat during these Olympic Games. USA Gymnastics sent out a tweet yesterday confirming that Biles is, in fact, back. She won't be the only U.S. gymnast to take part in tonight's balance beam final. All around champion and rising star Suni Lee will also be going for her 2nd goal of these Olympic Games.

But, tonight, the stage is set, John, and the world will be watching, as Simone Biles, the GOAT, the greatest of all time, goes for gold here in Tokyo.

VAUSE: OK. That will be a moment to remember, but we also have new events being debuted at Tokyo. One is called sports climbing that's happening today?

ESSIG: Yes. John, again, these are exciting for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is several new sports, making their Olympic debuts. Sports climbing is one of them, and that's happening today.

There are three types of sport climbing events that will take place. That includes speed climbing where two climbers will compete to make it to the top of the wall, first, lead climbing where athletes climb as high as they possibly can, within a specified time. And, bolder ring were climbers follow a fixed route, within a specified time.

But, sports climbing, again, isn't the only newcomer to Tokyo. Surfing, and skateboarding, already made their Olympic debuts, while, karate gets underway two days from now -- John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there live in Tokyo.

Let's go now to CNN World Sport anchor Patrick Snell.

Patrick, I don't know about you, but, you know, climbing, BMX, and surfing, I like to put national track events. That's a big day, right?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Well, yeah, I do, too, but I love the new additions we've had so far, John. I will say, by stating my case. I think surfing was excellent, and historic.

Enough for me, I want to get to an amazing day already this Tuesday. Just a short while ago, a race for the agents to tell you about. Norway, winning gold, in the 400 meter hurdles, shattering the world record. I do mean shattering the world record in the process.

The 25-year-old not jus holding off Rai Benjamin of the United States of America to win a race for the ages, as they called, and rightly so. Just for context, ahead of today's final, the world record actually stood at 46.7 zero seconds, which Warholm himself sets on the first day of July.

Well, wait for it, because after Tuesday's final, both Warholm and Benjamin both of them beating the mark by a wide margin. Warholm becoming the first to run the event in less than 46 seconds, finishing in a time of 45.9. Benjamin's time, by the way, pretty special, too, 46.17, the brown metal, even that, going to Alison Dos Santos of Brazil, with a time of 46.72, his time. Now, the 4th fastest in history, at this particular event.

Just surreal historic scenes, and after the race, they were calling, it by far, the biggest moment of his life. No surprises there. He would add, it defines everything, all hours that I have put in, everything my coach has been working for, I dream about it, and I tell you, I sleep all night on it. I spent all of my time thinking of this. So, just getting this last metal, into my collection, it's complete, absolutely fantastic to be reporting on this.

All right. John, we have already been hugely impacted on these games by the Dutch track and field star, Sifan Hassan, who suffered a very heavy fall during a 1,500 meter heat. That was on Monday. What happened then though, recovering superbly, powering away to victory after a photo finish.

Now, we can say, it is one, down 2 to go, for the 28-year-old. For context, here she is aiming for a never before attempted trio of track golds, also including the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. Hassan securing the first of those in the 5,000 meters, a dominant display, and she becomes now the first Dutchwoman to win Olympic medal in a women's long distance event. And really impressive, all coming back to that fall, had she not recovered, and gone on to win on a photo finish, who knows what might be reporting on now.

Check on the overall medal situation as it stands at this hour. China still leading the medals table with 29 golds, 63 in total. The U.S., with the most total medals at 66, 22 of them in gold, the host nation of Japan, having a historic, and highly impressive Olympics with 18 gold medals. Their, most ever, in a single game.

John, I want you to know all about Australia, 14 goals for the Australians, part of their 33 in total.

Oi, oi, oi. Back to you.

VAUSE: You are like a local! Patrick, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Well, the international Olympic Committee has announced an investigation into what led to a Belarusian athlete fleeing her team managers, and seeking refuge in the Polish embassy. Defections have happened and almost every Olympics since World War II, and Kristina Timanovskaya looks to keep the tradition alive, claiming she will face political persecution at home. Timanovskaya was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. Her husband, also fleeing, and is reportedly believed to be in Ukraine.

We have more from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It was a simple complaint, but no criticism is safe if you come from Belarus. Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya unleashed criticism of her Olympic team managers for entering her in the 4x400 relay race without her consent, something she'd never competed in before because Belarus didn't have enough runners. It was a rant that would not only end her Olympic bid, but also her life in Belarus.

Forty-eight hours after posting the video, she said she was escorted by Belarus team reps to the airport, her bags packed and ticket home booked for her. She was terrified.

KRYSTSINA TSIMANOUSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OLYMPIC SPRINTER (through translator): I asked 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 asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

WALSH: She said the instant recall had "come from above", a one-way ticket home to likely repression.

She was terrified of returning to Belarus for good reason. This man, President Alexander Lukashenko dubbed the last dictator in Europe, friend of Vladimir Putin has unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

Allegations of brutality have been constant. CNN reporting on male rape in police custody, extreme brutality against peaceful protesters. Activists have mysteriously died in police custody.

And last week, a court banned an independent news station as extremist amid a wider assault on the media. The government denies accusations of brutality. So, at the airport, Tsimanouskaya reached out to Japanese police who held her in safety as news of what she called her forced return spread. The Belarusian Olympic Committee said she had, quote, psychological and emotional issues and was taken off the team, which she denies.


YURI MOISEYEVICH, BELARUSIAN TEAM COACH (through translator): She stood out with her behavior. We know her and we've known her a long time. There was something strange. Sometimes she would isolate. Sometimes she would not want to socialize.

WALSH: She said it was because she criticized the Olympic managers and annoyed this man.

Quickly, democratic Europe came to her aid, Poland offering her a humanitarian visa and perhaps asylum.

MARCIN PRZYDACZ, POLISH DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Of course, she can continue. She's free to pursue her sporting career in Poland, but that would be her decision.

WALSH: She entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo at roughly the same time her husband fled Belarus into Ukraine. Hers, a very public and clumsy sign of how Belarus has treated even the most slightly outspoken critic, so many of whom suffer silently behind bars.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Jill Dougherty is with us from Washington. Jill is a former CNN Moscow bureau chief, she's also a White House correspondent, also my boss in Asia when she was a Hong Kong bureau chief. She's now an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, here's a little more from Tsimanouskaya as reported by the news site Tribuna, "I'm afraid that I might be jailed in Belarus. I'm not afraid of being fired or kicked out of the national team. I'm concerned about my safety. I think that at the moment, it's not safe for me in Belarus."

The Russian news agency TASS though reports that the Belarusian Olympic Committee decided to send her home over her emotional and mental state. There's a big long explanation that basically say that she says she got put into the 4x400 meter relay after two other runners from the team were disqualified because they did not participate in supplying enough doping samples.

It goes on to accuse Tsimanouskaya of taking to social media and criticizing that decision. And that's why she was forced home. What precisely happened here? Where does the truth lie?

DOUGHERTY: OK. It is a little complicated, John. But I was following this on social media. So, it was a fast-moving story, not clear exactly where she was. But eventually she ends up and she is now we understand, going to get a humanitarian visa from Poland. And she is expected to leave on Wednesday for Poland.

Now, this is -- it's significant, I think, because if you look at that video, there was nothing overtly political in what she said.

But the whole situation, John, and we can talk about this, about the Olympics and about Lukashenko -- Alexander Lukashenko, the existing president right now, the whole thing is very personal and very political.

One factor, Viktor Lukashenko who is the elder son of Alexander, the President, happens to be the head of the Belarus Olympic Committee. So, I think you can see where we're going with this.

VAUSE: Yes, because athletes of Belarus along with a lot of other people who've spoken out against the Lukashenko regime have been jailed in the past year. I want to listen to a former Belarusian decathlete, listen to this.


ANDREI KRAUCHANKA, FORMER BELARUSIAN DECATHLETE (through translator): We made the decision to leave Belarus because of the concerns for our safety. We might ask for support here for my spouse to be able to continue her career, and maybe I will find something for myself here. We don't plan on returning in the near future.

I look at the athletes, it frightens me. Yes, everyone has their own opinion. But the sports world is completely different. And there needs to be solidarity, it doesn't matter if someone likes or doesn't like Krystsina, but in this situation she is right.


VAUSE: And so, the fears are not unfounded.

DOUGHERTY: You know, it's -- I think it's a sad situation. Because, remember in May, you had the plane that was carrying a blogger Pratasevich, Raman Pratasevich that was forced down by the Belarusian government. And he was arrested. I think he is now in under house detention.

But you know, these are -- these are very serious things. And I think most people looking at the situation really would believe that Krystsina Tsimanouskaya could end up being arrested.

So, there -- now she will be going to, as we said to Poland, her husband and her child, we understand have already gone to Ukraine. So, this whole there's -- and she was offered a number of other places to go primarily in the Baltic and Eastern Europe. So, they move very quickly to come out on the side of this athlete and against the Belarusian current -- Belarusian president who is Alexander Lukashenko.

VAUSE: You mentioned the fact that he was the president of the Russian Olympic Committee. His son has now taken over since February.


To what extent is Olympic sport and the sporting -- Olympic sporting system in Belarus being used as another means to control and intimidate athletes because sport is very important in propping up the regime in many ways.

DOUGHERTY: I think it's a symbol as it is in a number of countries. Obviously, there's that personal political situation, but I did watch a piece of video by Alexander Lukashenko who said, that if there are no results, which of course would mean a win in Tokyo, that the entire operation, the entire Belorussian Olympic group that was going to go should think twice about going because if they don't win, essentially, they better not think about coming back. And then he said, I'm saying this as the president of Belarus.

So, this is a very -- it was said very strongly and really truly is a fright, you perform or else.

VAUSE: Yes, there's only really one way you can take that at the end of the day. Jill, we appreciate you being with us. Jill Dougherty there in Washington, take care.

Well, the desperate scramble to contain devastating wildfires from southern Europe. It may be even harder than forecast in the coming days.

Also ahead, nearly one month after Haiti's president was gunned down and it's home, his widow speaking on camera for the first time.


MOISE: I never thought that the level of hate have existed in the country.

RIVERS: You never thought this could happen?



VAUSE: Wildfires, across southern Europe, there is drug conditions, and temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius.

Resorts along Turkey's Mediterranean coast, under threat from flames for nearly a week. Several countries, sent planes, and emergency crews, to contain the fires.

In Italy, wildfires are burning on the Adriatic coast, and being driven by strong winds in Sicily. Wildfires have destroyed several villages and western Greece. In record high temperatures, they're expected in the region for the next few days.

In the next hour, Iran's supreme leader will confirm Ebrahim Raisi as president-elect. This comes ahead of his swearing into office on Thursday. He is seen as a hard line conservative, opposed to engage with the West, but his election is considered tainted, because many candidates, without real political, support were mostly banned from running.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran with all the very latest on the elections.

So, a big day coming up, but for many, it was not the outcome that was expected.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, certainly, you are right, the participation in the election was not very high, and there were a lot of candidates, John, who, of course, were disqualified, as you just said. Nevertheless, Ebrahim Raisi obviously did win a very big victory in that election. And I think we are going to see right now in the not too distant future after he's obviously confirmed today by the supreme leader, and then sworn in on Thursday, it's really a much more conservative approach, here in Iran, not just towards domestic policy, but really towards foreign policy as well.


It was quite interesting, because that's one of the first things that Ebrahim Raisi did say. He said there is going to be a very active and very dynamic foreign policy on the part of the Iranians. And it certainly is one that will potentially see a lot of confrontation with the U.S., and with the West in general. I mean, you're already seeing some of the things that Ebrahim Raisi has been saying, but one of the things that he certainly pointed out as he, definitely, will not have direct talks with the U.S., or with President Biden.

He also said, he will wait and see what happens with the Iran nuclear agreement. Of course, those negotiations have been going on for the Rouhani administration, but he certainly said, Iran is going to be very active here, and certainly, not looking for help with engagement with the United States, John.

VAUSE: We also have a situation with the tanker that was attacked off the coast of Oman, in the Arabian Sea. With the U.K., Israel, the United States, and leaders all around the world, accusing Iran of being behind this drone attack. What are they saying in Tehran?

PLEITGEN: Well, the Iranians are continuing to deny it. They say that the allegations are being made, of course, by Israel, by the United States, but the Romanian, is of course, who died on board, was a Romanian sailor. In the form of Iran's foreign ministry, they are calling those accusations, quote, baseless.

One of the messages that are not so very veiled is in the Iranians are also saying that if there's any sort of retaliation for what happen with that tanker, that there's going to be a big reaction coming from Iran as well, the spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry saying that those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind, or the storm, as they put it. Obviously, saying, look, if there is some sort of retaliation for, this Iranians will react forcefully.

Of course, in the context of what is going on, really, in the maritime sphere, you have seen a big escalation, John. In the past two years, really since the maximum pressure campaign by the Trump administration, really kicked in, you had a lot of incidents happening in the Strait of Hormuz, generally, in the Persian Gulf as well.

And then you also had, of course, ships getting attacked, some affiliated with Israel, some affiliated with Iran, both those countries, always blaming each other. But it's sort of what's also very shadowy as to what happened. Now, of course, the big escalation is that there was a loss of life. Certainly, that does up the ante a great deal.

So, really a very tense situation. The messaging that we're hearing out of Tehran is they're saying, look, if there's any sort of retaliation of all this can escalate further, John.

VAUSE: Yeah, it's a tense situation as it often as. Thank you, Fred Pleitgen, our man there in Tehran.

Haiti's first lady, having relived a very graphic detail, that night, nearly one month ago, when gunman breached the presidential palace, overwhelmed security forces, and eventually shot her husband dead in their bedroom.

Martine Moise is the sole survivor, and only witness to the assassination, and she spoke exclusively to CNN's Matt Rivers.


RIVERS (voice-over): When gunmen stormed Haiti's presidential residence and assassinated President Jovenel Moise, just one witness was there when he died.

Madam first lady, how are you? Thank you so much.

His wife, Haiti's first lady, Martine Moise. Flanked by private security, she agreed to go on camera for the first time with her side of a story that's left her shaken.

You have armed security here at this interview. We've been asked, and agreed, not to disclose the location of where we're talking right now.

You are, obviously, at least, thinking about threats to your life. Do you feel like your life right now is at risk?

MOISE: Yes. It is. Because I wasn't supposed to be alive.

RIVERS: In a long conversation that switched between Haitian Creole and English, Moise described, in vivid detail, what happened the night her husband was killed.

It was around 1:00 a.m., she says, when the shooting started. It wasn't something small. It was the sounds of automatic weapons.

Bullet holes still pockmark the compound. At the time, she and her husband, hid in their bedroom. But just minutes later, she says the door burst open. Gunfire ripped through the air, and at first, only she was hit. Face down and bleeding, she thinks about a dozen men ransacked the room, looking for something specific.

They came to find something, because I heard them saying, that's not it, that's not it. There it is, which means they found what they were looking for.

She doesn't know what they found, but after they did, an attacker approached her husband, at this point, still alive and unhurt, and got on the phone.

She says, that person called someone and described what my husband looked like, saying he was tall, skinny, and black. Maybe the person on the phone confirmed to the shooter that was him, and they shot him on the floor.


The president was dead, and the attackers left soon after. Moise believes they thought she was dead, too. Critically wounded, she lifted herself up.

When you stood up, and you saw that he was dead, did you say anything to him?

In my heart, I said something I used to tell him when he was alive. We are married, for better or worse, and even beyond the grave.

Her left side bleeding and her right arm shredded by gunfire, she's eventually let out of the house by police and comes to a quick conclusion. The dozens of security guards normally on hand to protect the president either let the attackers in, or they abandoned their posts.

There's no other explanation, she says. You're there to protect the president, and the president is dead, and you are nowhere to be found, adding she was amazed apparently not a single guard was injured. Moise believes it's part of a much larger conspiracy.

At your husband's funeral, you said, quote, the raptors are still out there, watching and laughing at us.

What did you mean by that?

MOISE: Yes, they are, because no one is being arrested yet. The people that they arrest, these are the people that pulled the trigger. They won't pull the trigger with no others. So the main character what we do need is the people that paid for that, and the people that gave the order. RIVERS: And you think that that person, or persons, has not yet been arrested?

MOISE: No. No.

RIVERS: The official investigation has led to the arrest of more than 40 suspects but has still not provided a motive for the president's killing or identified a mastermind behind it all. That has left a vacuum Haiti flooded with theories about who killed the president who, at the time of his death, was an embattled, largely unpopular leader.

Even still, for his widow, this was an unimaginable ending.

MOISE: I never thought that the level of hate ever existed in the country.

RIVERS: You never thought this could happen?


RIVERS: Because your husband did have a lot of enemies.

MOISE: He did. But I didn't know that they hated that much, to kill him.

RIVERS: You know, we asked Martine Moise, are you confident in the investigation that is ongoing on the island right now? And she basically said, no. And she specifically said that she wants U.S. investigators, already involved in this investigation, to continue, even ramp up their participation.

She also is specifically calling for the U.N. to create a special investigative tribunal to investigate the assassination of her husband, much like they did back in the mid-2000s, after the assassination of Lebanon's prime minister.

Basically, what she's saying there is that she does not trust this investigation, unless foreign investigators are involved. Because, if they're not, she doesn't feel the truth will ever truly be found out.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Miami.


VAUSE: Well, still to come, with surging infections linked to the delta variant in the U.S., there are no lining up COVID testing where vaccination rates soared in places where it might be at least expected.

Later, details on a clinical trial yet to begin to find out the best time, and dose, to vaccinate a pregnant woman.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, the highly contagious delta variant has now spread to at least 132 countries. In the United States, one in every three new cases were from Florida and Texas this past week. And that could explain lines like this at a testing site in Miami.

The White House says new cases in the U.S. are concentrated in areas with low vaccination rates and have been driven by the delta variant.

On the other side of the world at least 16 provinces and 26 cities in China are reporting locally-transmitted COVID cases. Officials say, most were also caused by the delta variant.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, live for us again this hour in Hong Kong. You know, on the mainland, they are very, very efficient. They can be brutal at times in their response to any outbreak of COVID-19. What are they doing now?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are being tested now by this highly contagious delta variant. And they're doing what they've always done in the pandemic playbook, using lockdowns -- targeted lockdowns, mass testing drives, et cetera.

Look, the delta variant is sweeping across China, right now. As of today, China reported 61 new local infections. that number does seem low. It's higher than the day before in China. It seems low compared to other countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

But look at the map on your screen right now. The fact that it is spreading across China to 26 different cities, 16 provinces in the last two weeks, that is sparking immense concern.

Now, sweeping pandemic measures have been put into place, including in Wuhan. The delta variant has been detected in the city where the coronavirus was first detected, a city of 11 million. the entire city will be subjected to COVID-19 testing.

In Nanjing, a city of 9 million. It has undergone three rounds of testing so far in the last two weeks. Indoor areas and venues like cinemas and gyms are closed.

Meanwhile in Beijing, officials there have banned anyone coming in from medium risk or high risk areas.

We do have a statement from a Beijing official that was released online earlier today, stating that "The city will do whatever it takes in order to stop the transmission of the delta variant."

The officials saying this. "The whole city should be further alerted to use the fastest speed, the strictest measures, the most decisive action to block the transmission at any cost to prevent the outbreak in Beijing, to ensure people's safety and health, and to ensure the safety of the capital," unquote.

But some experts outside China say that China's containment strategy is not enough to contain delta. Take a listen.


YANZHONG HUANG, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think it is time for the government to seriously consider shifting to a mitigation-based strategy that's focused on taking care of, you know, those severe cases and reducing mortality.

That could be done by developing, importing and distributing more effective vaccines.


STOUT: The delta outbreak is testing China and its zero tolerance policy, its approach towards the virus with mass testing and contact tracing campaigns and it is definitely testing its mass vaccination programs. So far China has administered 1.67 billion doses.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Kristie thank you. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Well, in the coming hours England will launch a clinical trial into the best timing to vaccinate pregnant women. More than 600 women are taking part in the study which will focus on the immune responses between the first and second shot with different dose intervals. Initial results are expected end of the year.

Meantime in Germany, officials are planning to offer COVID vaccine booster shots to those most at risk beginning next month. Vaccinations will also be expanded to include all children aged 12 to 17.

Just over half of Germany's population is vaccinated. Almost 62 percent have received at least one shot.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, two Olympian's fulfilling a dream competing against each other and yet both winning gold medals -- all part of the really nice, really caring, really sharing Olympics.

We'll have more on that in a moment.



VAUSE: 2:36 on a Tuesday afternoon there in Tokyo Bay. Day 11.

It's one of most talked-about moments from the Tokyo Olympics came when the individual sports, one of them at least, ended with two gold medals. Two high jumpers, one from Qatar, the other from Italy both reached the same height. Normally a tie breaker would come next, but they asked officials if they could share the gold.

It's allowed and they were. Loud cheers from a very small crowd soon followed in the stadium and the two men high-fived and celebrated.


GIANMARCO TAMBERI, OLYMPIAN ATHLETE: Two is better than one. If we could do three, it would be even better. I know what Mutaz passed through because we had the same injury of knee. And I didn't just -- I didn't want to live the dream to win. We didn't want to live the dream to me.

So if we continue to fly, somebody loses their dream and we could not finish with two gold medals. That's the rule. So we just looked at each other and we just started to cry and understand that we realized our dreams.


VAUSE: That moment, just one of several acts of kindness that have not gone unnoticed at this year's Olympics.

Ed Hula is the editor and founder of the online publication "Around The Rings". She's been covering the Olympics for three decades. It's been a very long time. It's almost from ancient Greek days, haven't (ph) they, Ed.

ED HULA, FOUNDER, "AROUND THE RINGS": Very ancient Greek days. The food was a lot better back then though. I'll say that.

VAUSE: Good to hear. Well, from what you've seen, over the past week or so, are the Tokyo games really a much kinder, much gentler, more caring Olympics compared to the previous years?

HULA: Well, I would say that maybe the influence of the pandemic is such that everybody is sort of watching out for themselves, maybe watching out for each other. And it's maybe instilled a little bit more goodwill amongst the Olympians.

It is just them and the officials. There's no crowds to egg them on. So yes, maybe. Maybe. We've had some extraordinary acts of kindness at these games so far.

VAUSE: And U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles, she proved she's not just a champion but she was a champion for her team after withdrawing from competition because of mental health issues. She was in the stands, cheering on her teammates.

She also tweeted this, "The outpouring of love and support I perceived has made me realize I am more than my accomplishments and gymnastics, which I never truly believed before."

So what is the connection here, though? You mentioned the pandemic, but between mental health awareness and this overall level of kindness and consideration, is this where they've sort of had an intersection of these two things?

HULA: Part of a successful athlete is being altogether in your head. And I think this has really raised the awareness of that kind of concern, that kind of care that needs to be extended to the athlete. So this may be a watershed games, you know, in that sense. You know, someone that has come very openly out and said, you know, my head wasn't in the right place. It was dangerous for me to twist and turn in the gymnastics routines. So I needed to take a break. I needed to blow off steam.


HULA: We saw that a couple of months ago with Naomi Osaka at the French Open.

I think athletes are starting to get the idea that if they don't feel good in their head it's ok to say something about it.

VAUSE: We also had this unforgettable moment when the high jumpers decided to share a gold medal. And they went for a tie.

It makes a really nice change, doesn't from like -- usually the story de jure out of the Olympics has always been a scandal. Someone said something wrong. Someone said something bad. There's a drug cheat being called out. Or some of (INAUDIBLE).

We don't often have this kind of positivity when it comes to the sidebar (ph) stories coming out of the Olympics?

HULA: No, we don't. It's quite a moment with Mutaz Barshim from Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy, the two co-winners of the gold medal.

That sort of things hasn't happened really since the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

And Mutaz Barshim, I have seen him. I've talked to him a few times. He is quite a character. He's a really friendly individual, a good person to meet and get to know. And I think his good will showed very much how he responded to this opportunity to share the gold medal with Tamberi of Italy.

I think it will go down -- who knows what could happen between now and the end of the game? But I think it will be remembered as one of the great moments of these Olympic Games in Tokyo for sure.

VAUSE: And at the same time, you know, we have all this positivity, all this good news, all these moments of, you know, niceness if you like.

But some of the comments that you read from people who have been, you know, watching the Olympics are still downright nasty, you know.

"Thank you for making me stay up late to watch you lose." And stuff like that. you know, I guess the question will be -- does this ultimately, you know, transfer over to the viewers and the whole atmosphere change? Or you know, will this all just be a flash in the pan?

HULA: It's generational, my friend. I think that's what it is. It takes a little bit of time for some of these knuckleheads out there who have a great deal of intolerance and unkindness towards what athletes are going through at this time.

So, you know, I think it will take a while. People will get used to the fact that athletes are people too and have feelings and have mental health problems as well.

The pressure that they are under is just incredible. And, you know, the media and the public are partly responsible. We had such perhaps unrealistic expectations for these individuals, for these athletes, and you know, that doesn't -- you know, that is not a good contributor to mental health to have that kind of pressure.


VAUSE: Yes. And hopefully, as you say, that's something which is slowly changing but a generational thing too. You're absolutely right.

HULA: Yes, I hope.

VAUSE: Ed, thank you so much. Good to see you, mate.

HULA: It's always good to see you, Vausy (ph). We'll meet again I'm sure.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

And now thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.


See you tomorrow.