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Raisi To Be Sworn In As Iranian President In Coming Hours; Heightened Tensions In The Middle East; Tokyo Posts Record 4,166 New COVID Cases On Wednesday; Aiming For Gold; Protesters, Security Forces Clash On Explosion Anniversary; Hundreds Evacuated As Fires Breach Turkish Power Plant; Heat Wave Stokes Hundreds OF Fires Southern Countries; Evidence Of Possible Belarus Prison Camp For Dissidents; Canada's Andre De Grasse Wins Men's 200m Gold. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 5, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM.

VAUSE (voice-over): Collective anger collides with national grief. Protesters in Beirut clashing with police on the one-year anniversary of a massive port explosion, which accelerated Lebanon spiral into economic despair.

Hot, dry, and deadly. All made worse in southern Europe right now by the climate change multiplier effect, making heat waves more frequent, wild fires more severe.

And to boost or not to boost? Rich nations debate an extra dose of COVID vaccine. While many low-income countries are yet to receive their first dose. Of either way for more deadly mutations of the coronavirus.

VAUSE (on camera): Well, began as a peaceful day of remembrance turned into a day of protests and violence. The anger over the deadly blast at Beirut's port was as fresh as it was one year ago.

Clashes between protesters and Lebanese security forces broke out after crowds gathered to mark the anniversary. Last August 4th, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate ignited at a warehouse, setting up a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.

Today, there are so few answers and there has been no accountability. CNN's Ben Wedeman was in Beirut and followed this report.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is how a day of commemoration for the August 4th blast has come to an end. Clashes between protesters and the Lebanese security forces were down the street and around the corner. These are the biggest protests we've seen since the days following the blast last year. And according to the Lebanese Red Cross, already dozens of people have been injured. And this really is the result of this deep, deep anger of so many Lebanese with the ruling elite. Or ruling elite that has mismanaged the economy, led to an economic and financial collapse that as a result of its negligence, corruption, and mismanagement led to the Beirut fort blast a year ago today killed more than 200 people, wounded more than 6,000, and rendered 300,000 people homeless.

Now, this right here, once you once a luxury hotel, but because of the unrest here, it has been completely boarded up with steel. But these people are banging on the walls just to show their anger and dissatisfaction with the situation.

And here we have more tear gas flying in. This really underscores the failure of the Lebanese political system to meet the basic needs of the people, and therefore, the people are reacting in this way.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.

VAUSE: The international community is promising further financial support for Lebanon as it struggles with a worsening economic crisis.


MICHEL AOUN, PRESIDENT OF LEBANON: There is no doubt that Lebanon needs every assistance and support from the international community.


VAUSE (voice-over): $370 million was raised to the virtual aid conference on Wednesday. That money will help address urgent food, water, health, and education needs.

More than 120 wildfires had broken out in and around Athens. Dozens of homes have been damaged, more than 70 people treated in hospital. That's just a snapshot of the heat emergency right now across southern Europe. CNN's Kim Brunhuber has details.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): What began as a clear blue sky over the Grecian capital Tuesday soon turned to plumes of smoke smothering Athens. By Wednesday, a thick haze coated the city surrounding its famed landmarks.


BRUNHUBER: Wildfires raging on the outskirts of Athens forced residents to flee as flames consumed their homes. The fires are now largely controlled, but fears remain it could surge again as Greece suffers its worst heatwave in more than 30 years.

In neighboring Turkey, firefighters are struggling to contain deadly blazes sweeping across parts of the country becoming more dangerous by the moment. After incinerating swaths of forest, flames have breached a power station in the country's southwest, the plant was evacuated and some of its flammable materials dumped, but environmentalists still fear the impact as the coal-powered station burns.

Turkish president says these are the worst fires the country has ever seen as a heatwave across the region increases the chances of more burning to come.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, and Serbia also face heat warnings.

E.U. scientists say the Mediterranean is becoming a wildfire hotspot, adding to worries that the climate crisis may be amplifying extreme weather in Europe and around the globe.

Kim Brunhuber, CNN.

VAUSE: CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is following conditions across the region right now. So, what is it looking like the next couple of days and where's the worst of this right now?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST (on camera): You know, the worst of it is still locked in across portions of Greece on into Turkey, John, but there is better news in that. The temperatures are going to be noticeably cooler here going into Saturday and Sunday.

Looking forward to see maybe some showers sneak in here. But at this point, it looks like just the cooler air. And I want to show you why. Because the excessive heat, the fire threat all locked in, in places that have been severely impacted in recent days. But a potent storm system on approach and notice these temperatures still running some 10 or more degrees above average here.

So, into the lower 40s and parts of Turkey and Greece. Athens drops off to just shy of 40 degrees. That's the coolest temperature we've seen in the last couple of days for Athens.

So, again, slight improvement in the forecast department. But in Greece alone, 118 fires in a 24 hour period have sparked here, of course gusty winds, the excessive dry conditions haven't helped. And according to the weather authorities in this region, you take a look since Sunday, 6,000 hectares of land consumed across Greece.

And compare that to 2020, 10,400 hectares in its entirety for the entire year of 2020. Kind of speaks to what an incredible run of fire weather activity has been in this region.

And of course, it is not just Greece work your way towards Italy. The average -- the long-term average for number of wildfires in the summer, about 100. Year to date here going into 2021, 303 large wildfires, and by and large, we're talking about over 30 hectares in size or greater. Of course, that is three times greater than the yearly average.

And here is the storm system. It is on approach. It will bring in again some cloud cover, maybe even some severe weather across portions of Eastern Europe, some of which can spawn tornadoes and gusty winds. That's the concern. I don't see much of the way of the rainfall making it to the south, but the gusty winds could be problematic. We do think the temperatures will cool off, John, but we're concerned about the gusty winds even with those temperatures that will be in the middle 30s and not the middle 40s.

VAUSE: That's something. Thank you, Pedram. Pedram Javaheri there with the latest. Appreciate it.

Well, the 200 million people worldwide have now been infected with the coronavirus. Recent surge in infections is being driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. And healthcare systems are once again feeling the strain.

Three countries: the United States, India, and Brazil account for more than 40 percent of all cases. Almost three percent of the world's population has now been infected since the pandemic began.

Globally, low vaccination rates remain a concern. And about 15 percent of the world's population is fully vaccinated. With a disparity in vaccinations between high and low-income countries growing wider, the World Health Organization is calling for a pause on COVID boosters for the next two months.

It wants people everywhere around the world to get their first dose -- first dose before those in those wealthy countries get their third. CNN's Larry Madowo has details now from Nairobi.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I've noticed growing demand for vaccines here in Kenya and around the continent as more African countries report new cases of the Delta variant.

MADOWO (voice-over): I was at a vaccination site in Nairobi where some people told me they knew they had to get the shot when they saw just how many new cases of the Delta variants are being reported here, except there are just not enough shots available here in Kenya, or in most parts of the continent.

MADOWO (on camera): That's what the World Health Organization is talking about here. Of the 4 billion vaccines administered globally so far, 80 percent went to high and middle-income countries, and the poor nations just don't have enough.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines, using even more of it, while the world's most vulnerable people remain unprotected.



MADOWO: The World Health Organization is essentially appealing to rich nations to go easy on booster shots until at least 10 percent of the population in every country is vaccinated by September.

Most African nations, for instance, will miss that target. The big problem here is that rich nations are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers, the biggest donors of COVID-19 vaccines, unless the virus is eliminated in this part of the world, nobody is safe because the virus mutates and new variants will make their way all over the world.

So, this is still a global problem even though many people here in Africa do not feel that we're in this together. Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.

VAUSE: So, Dennis Carroll is an infectious disease expert and the former director of the emerging threats division at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He joins us now from Washington, D.C. Welcome back. It's good to see you.


VAUSE: You know, from the beginning, it seems the threat from the COVID mutations was underestimated. You know, mostly we're told virus mutations happen all the time, nothing to worry about. That is until the Alpha variant came along and caused a spike in infections last year. That was followed by Beta which seemed to target young people, making them sick.

Gamma, that re-infected those who'd already had COVID. We all know about Delta. And now there comes a word of Delta Plus, which could be even more contagious. But even if Delta Plus is not the next dominant strain worldwide, is there any reason to assume the Delta variant represents some kind of ceiling in terms of infectiousness of the coronavirus?

CARROLL: No, not at all. Look, one of the prime directives of all viruses is to evolve and adapt. And, you know, what we're seeing, and we've seen over the last year and a half, is really a poster child of this directive.

We have seen the viruses, each step along the way figure out how they can make themselves more infectious and able to spread more widely. And even in the face of the vaccine, they're learning how to adapt and evolve. So, it's a -- you know, this is a situation where the virus is very flexible, very adaptable.

And unless we bring the same kind of rigorous adaptation to our response, we're going to find ourselves very much victimized by this virus.

VAUSE: Yes, and when it comes to mutation, the rate of mutation for COVID-19 as reading, it's considered to be relatively low. But what it does have an advantage is the sheer number of people who are infected or have been infected. 200 million confirmed cases worldwide, which is likely a fraction of the actual real-world number.

So, if just one infected person can carry 10 billion copies of the virus, they become a mutation breeding ground in a way producing billions of mutations every day. If a more deadly, more contagious variant emerges what? Only once in every million, trillion mutations, that just becomes a numbers game, doesn't it?

Because especially in light of the fact that there is so few people who've been vaccinated either by choice, or because they don't actually have access to vaccines.

CARROLL: We really have to change our strategy around vaccination that we have to follow the virus and not simply continue to vaccinate within our own geopolitical borders.

So, you've seen, you know, the disparity, Europe, North America, 50, 60, 70 percent of the populations were vaccinated. But you look across Africa and South America and parts of Asia, and you're looking at one, two, three, five percent vaccinated.

Those areas that are under-vaccinated are the breeding grounds for all of these new variants, unless we take a strategy that focuses on where the virus is working to continue to be vulnerable to new variants emerging, and the consequences of those variants, ultimately, potentially, you know, outmaneuvering our vaccines. That is the horror story that we're all concerned about.

VAUSE: There's is also this question of the, you know, booster shots now, which are being rolled out in a number of wealthy countries that have access to vaccines. The WHO, once again, saying that's not the right way to proceed here.

Listen to this.


KATHERINE O'BRIEN, DIRECTOR, IMMUNIZATION, VACCINES AND BIOLOGICALS DEPARTMENT, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We need, instead, to focus on those people who are most vulnerable, most at risk of severe disease and death to get their first and second doses. And that we can move on to how to advance programs as the evidence gets stronger and as supply is assured.



VAUSE: So, the only way to stop mutations is to stop the spread, then global vaccination is in everyone's best interest. But is it possible to have booster shots as well at the same time?

CARROLL: Well, I think there are populations of people within highly vaccinated countries like in the United States that are immunocompromised. Those people who are living with conditions that make them extraordinarily vulnerable.

Those people should benefit, I think, from a booster shot. But they're very -- it's a very small population. I think the point being made by the World Health Organization is we cannot begin to redirect scarce vaccines for booster shots for populations of people, over 60 that are marginally at risk at this point, compared to populations in Africa and Asia, and the Americas who have not seen any vaccine.

So, we need to be really much more strategic and thoughtful about how this scarce commodity -- these vaccines which are limited. You know, it's about what can we do to prevent this virus from overwhelming the world at this point?

VAUSE: It does say that it has been a lack of global coordination from the very get-go of the role often taken up by the United States which seem to have been left vacant. Hopefully, that will change.

Dennis Carroll, as always, thank you so much for being with us.

CARROLL: John, thank you very much.

VAUSE: Coming up, a CNN exclusive. Political dissidents in Belarus now fear being sent to detention camps. And CNN has evidence the government, like just have at least one ready for inmates.

Plus, at the Tokyo Olympics, a further finish in the men's 110-meter hurdles, details when we come back. You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: The Belarusian Olympian turned dissident is now safe in Poland. Sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya arrived in Warsaw Wednesday after a brief layover in Vienna. Belarusian officials tried to force her onto a flight to Belarus last weekend after she publicly criticized the team coach.

Her family had warned it was not safe to return and she appealed for political asylum while at the Tokyo airport. Poland then offered Timanovskaya and her husband humanitarian visas.

She was welcomed at the airport in Warsaw by Belarusians living in Poland. They were wearing red and white symbols of resistance.

Well, back in Belarus, troubling evidence is emerging what may be a prison camp for political dissidents. The refurbish facility was done deep in a thick Belarusian forest. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): A chilling sight not from the last century, but last month. A possible prison camp built inside Belarus for political prisoners.

Seeing and obtain this footage of all witnesses said looked like a newly refurbished camp about an hour's drive from the capital Minsk. A new sign saying, forbidden border, and entry.

A three-layer fence electrified they said. New moving surveillance cameras, bars, and reflective screens on the windows of newly rebuilt barracks. No prisoners yet, what looked like a soldier inside, and regular military patrols who told our witnesses outside to leave. One local talked to them anonymously. My friend, Sasha, a builder, told me they refurbish this place. He says, there are three levels of barbed wire and it's electrified. I was picking mushrooms here when a military man came up to me and said I can't walk here.

The building sits on the vast site of a former Soviet missile storage facility surrounded by forest. The repairs came not long after defecting, police officers released secret recordings of senior police discussing the need for prison camps at several sites.



The assignment to develop and build a camp, build a camp, but not for prisoners of war or even the interned. But a camp for the especially sharp-holed, for resettlement. And surround it with barbed wire along the perimeter.

WALSH (on camera): Not surprisingly, CNN hasn't gained access to the interior of the site. So, we can't definitively say that it is intended for use as a prison camp. But a western intelligence official I spoke to said that use was "possible" or that they didn't have direct evidence.

WALSH (voice-over): In the current climate. It's tough to imagine what else to camp could be for. Opposition leaders fear its possible use by President Alexander Lukashenko's forces during future protests.

FRANAK VIACORKA, ADVISOR TO SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA: It's not surprising that he's trying to build something like a regular prison camp. Because the new wave of protest will come up with anyway. It can be triggered by his statement, it can be triggered by economic situation, but it will come.

And he understand, and he also want to be prepare more than last year in 2020. Now, this is why I will love the surprise of such camps are being built.

WALSH: Belarusian officials declined to comment and have called the recording about camp's fake news when it was released, saying they followed the law. These images emerge after a week's long crackdown against remaining independent media inside Belarus, and dozens of arrests.

Inside Belarus, the protest movements being persecuted so hard. It now holds remote flash mob demonstrations like these filmed by drones. But some of it is finding ways to hit back, CNN has learned.

These are railway saboteurs apparently in action. They say their operations the details of which we aren't disclosing just trigger alarms that stop trains on the tracks, risking nobody's safety and causing traffic to slow down they say.

We spoke to one organizer. "When our skies are blocked," he said, "we should block the land as well. The main goal is to cause economic damage for the regime because all the delays caused them to pay huge fines."

This action was carried out they said on a key route from Russia to the European Union. CNN can't independently confirm it was effective.

WALSH (on camera): If there is an impact on rail traffic, it could have great significance outside of Belarusian, and here, Lithuania. Because so many goods from the east rely on this network to get to Europe.

WALSH (voice-over): Signs both sides could be adopting new, harsher tactics and what may await crash protests as the screws tighten.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Vilnius, Lithuania.


VAUSE: A long collective wait is almost over. In just a few hours, karate will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo. It's just one of a dozen sports with medals up for grabs. Day. 13 also has a full slate of track and field events.

On the basketball court, the United States and Australia are facing off this hour. The Aussies stunned the Americans in an exhibition game last month. Today's winner will face either France or Slovenia for the gold.

Let's bring in CNN's "WORLD SPORT Patrick Snell with the very latest. I've been waiting a long time to see karate at the Olympics.


VAUSE: Thank goodness.

SNELL: We shall see what's happening. Thank you so much, yes, for joining us. Yes, 27 gold medals up for grabs just to confirm that. I do want to start today though with a big shock. This is in the men's 110 meters hurdles.

Short while ago, another golden moment as well for Jamaican sport. You know, so much of the focus ahead of this race had been on the world champion, the American Grant Holloway who actually leading until the very last hurdle in that contest.


SNELL (on camera): But that's when he seemed to sort of lose his momentum. And it would be Hansle Parchment who takes full advantage. Just powering his way to victory in a season-best time for him are 13.04 seconds. Huge disappointment though for the 23-year-old Holloway who hadn't lost the hurdles race, you know, since August of last year. A silver medal for him there at the Olympic Stadium. Meantime, let's reflect on -- well, let's call it overall a somewhat speedy track there. I think it's fair to say at these Summer Games. Producing plenty more drama. This was on Wednesday in Tokyo as the Canadian star Andre De Grasse with only one better than his rear performance finally claiming gold in the men's 200 meters.

The 26-year-old crossing the line ahead of two Americans including the world champion himself, Noah Lyles.

De Grasse now looking forward to being reunited with his wife, Rio 2016 silver medalist Nia Ali, and the rest of the family.


ANDRE DE GRASSE, FIVE-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: I talked to her and the kids. They were screaming up and down, jump in. You know, they are so proud of me. I mean, I wish I could have had them here with me in Tokyo, but of course, the circumstances. But, you know, definitely, they're back home going crazy. They are -- they are super proud of me and I can't wait to go home to them in what? Three days after the relay. So, three, four days.


SNELL: Family pride, indeed. And I will do want to get as well to an update. This is a story that we bought you last week when the American BMX racing star Connor Fields suffering a brain hemorrhage. This after competing in the Olympic semifinals.

Now, we can tell you though, the 28-year-old is being released from hospital in Tokyo today. Fields, a 2016 Rio gold medalist crashed during his third run on Friday before then being stretchered off, taken by ambulance for treatment at the St. Luke's International Hospital in the Japanese Capitol.

He was slated to return to the U.S. state of Nevada for his rehabilitation. And great news for him. We'll be doing it alongside family and friends. Of course, we here at CNN, wishing Connor all the very best. John, as I send it right back to you.

VAUSE: Patrick, we appreciate that. Thank you very much. We'll see you in a bit.

Well, Iran's president-elect is just hours away from being sworn in. But his hardline approach to the West has been known well long before now. When he -- when we come back, what does this all now mean for the rest of the world?



VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hardline judiciary chief and staunch critic of the West will be sworn in as the new president in the coming hours.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei officially approved Raisi for the job on Tuesday. Despite why widespread accusations, the presidential vote was not so much an election, but rather a selection made by a small group of elite hardline conservatives.


Those same conservatives now control all branches of Iran's civilian government. Human rights groups have condemned Raisi's past, including his alleged involvement with the so called death panel that presided over the mass execution of up to 5,000 political prisoners in 1988.

Dalia Dassa Kaye is a Wilson Center Scholar and former Director of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy. And she is with us this hour from Los Angeles. It is good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. So, Raisi comes into office with sort of a bang, if you like. There's last week's drone attack on a commercial cargo ship, the Mercer Street. Here's what the U.S. Secretary of State had to say on that.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've conducted a thorough review and we're confident that Iran carried out this attack. It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran, including past incidents with explosive drones. There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel, on a commercial mission in international waters.


VAUSE: Then there was also the attempted hijacking of another commercial ship earlier this week. Here is the U.S. State Department on who they believe illegally boarded that ship.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We can confirm that personnel have left the Panama flagged asphalt Princess, this commercial vessel that was seized yesterday. We believe that these personnel were Iranian.


VAUSE: So, Iran has denied the allegations. But assuming, you know, Iran is to blame and there does seem to be, you know, form on the board, if you like. Is there a message here that these attacks were carried out during the days leading up to the new president being sworn in? Is a timing significant?

KAYE: Well, yes, I don't think it's a complete coincidence. There's no question that this new hardline leadership in Iran is acting assertively trying to send the message that if they will continue to face the pressure of sanctions, others will pay a price and no doubt trying to gain leverage.

But I think it's also important to note that there is a context to this, these attacks aren't coming out of a vacuum. They started actually back, seriously, in 2019 when Iran started attacking oil tankers. This is in the midst of maximum pressure following the U.S. withdrawal under President Trump from the nuclear deal.

So, I think, you know, we saw this pattern, unfortunately, before. And with this new hardline leadership, I don't think we're going to see a reason to see it stop. In fact, I think we could probably can see more -- expect more escalation along these lines.

VAUSE: Yes. And the tanker, which was attacked by a drone was Israeli owned. And on Wednesday, Israel's defense minister said, "Now is the time for deeds, words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic, and even military deeds, otherwise the attacks will continue."

So, does President Raisi mean, an open conflict with Israel is now more likely than it was during the time of the outgoing President Rouhani?

KAYE: Well, the conflict between Israel and Iran has actually been ongoing. We call it a shadow war, but it hasn't really been much of a shadow of war for a number of months at this point, if not years.

There's more recognition on both sides of the ongoing conflict. The tit for tat has expanded, not just in terms of targeting on Iran's nuclear program, we saw sabotage attacks last summer, again in April. But we also see expanded confrontation in the maritime arena. We see that again this week.

And this is going back and forth. And of course, they continue -- continuing is really campaign in Syria against Iranian aligned group. So, this is, you know, this is a conflict that has been ongoing. And it is extremely worrying that both sides may think they know where the red lines are, but they may be pushing too far.

And especially with this new government in Iran, I think that's the big worry, that it just takes another civilian death. And we already saw to this past week, extremely worrying. I think the Israelis, with the new government are moving more toward hopefully a multilateral response, but they have shown in the past, they are willing to act alone if they need to.

VAUSE: Well, Israel has responded just a few moments ago with airstrikes through another round of rocket fire coming from neighboring Lebanon. Israeli officials, I believe, Palestinians are responsible for this, not the Iran backed militant group Hezbollah. Even so (ph), there's anything like this happened in Lebanon, without approval from Hezbollah, without them knowing about it and ultimately Iran?

KAYE: Well, you know, there's interesting timing in Lebanon as well, like they are marking the anniversary of the horrific blast a year ago. There's a lot of protests within the country and calls for accountability. There's a horrible governance failure in that country.

Lots of blame for Hezbollah. Its role in this and the government. So, you know, there are some arguments that this might be an attempt to distract from some of the domestic developments there. Hezbollah doesn't have complete control but they have a good amount.


So, I think yes, that is just -- it's an example of just another front in this ongoing conflict between Iran and its militia forces across the region. And frankly, Iran's neighbors are more worried about Iran's activities in these areas than they are even about the nuclear program.

VAUSE: Yes. We didn't get time for that. But it seems like the nuclear deal --

KAYE: Yes.

VAUSE: -- might not be, you know, dead in the water just yet because of economic issues that Raisi campaigned on. But we'll maybe another time we'll get to that.

Dalia, thank you so much. Good to see you.

KAYE: Thank you. Good to see you, John.

VAUSE: Cheese (ph).

Well, Delta variant is now causing 90 percent of all new COVID infections in the Olympic host (ph) city. Cases in Tokyo have now reached their highest daily total, yet health experts fear it could soon double or triple as people clamor to get closer to the athletes and to see the games. A live report in Tokyo when we come back.


VAUSE: Outrage is growing in India after a nine-year-old girl was raped and murdered at a crematorium on Sunday. Hundreds protested in Delhi on Wednesday, including the girl's parents demanding justice. Four men have been arrested, one of them a priest, but they're yet to be charged.

Police are investigating this as a crime of caste violence. The girl's parent's part of what's considered India's lowest caste.

Mexico is taking U.S. gun makers to court over what it calls a flood of weapons across the border. Also filed Wednesday claims that many American made guns not only end up in criminal hands in Mexico, but also that U.S. gun makers design and market their weapons in a way that routinely sends in -- sends them, rather, to drug cartels.

Also ties Mexico's rising homicide rate to the gun companies increased production and marketing of military grade weapons. So far, no response from the gun makers. Tokyo reported nearly 4,200 new COVID cases on Wednesday. The highest one day total since the pandemic began. More than 350 cases have been linked to the Olympic Games. Japanese health officials say the Delta variant is spreading so quickly. The government may extend COVID restrictions to eight more prefectures.

CNN's Blake Essig is tracking all the disease developments for us in Tokyo. He joins us live.

So Blake, this is pretty much kind of the point that everyone had feared to get to this syllable was the tipping point where there's now this real potential of an explosion a number of cases. And because people just so excited about the Olympics, they tend to put, you know, caution to one side and or get close together. So, what's the latest? And what are they doing about it?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, John, throughout these Olympics, we've seen a lot of amazing records broken on the track, in the pool, and at sea as well. Unfortunately, we've also seen a record number of COVID-19 cases here in Tokyo and across Japan. The infection rate is surging and doctors say because of the Olympics, it's about to get a whole lot worse.



ESSIG (voice-over): Shunsuke Shirakawa has been bringing the funk for more than 20 years. On a normal night at Brown Sugar, the beer is pouring. The bubbles are flowing. There's not an empty seat in the house. But tonight's not normal. In fact, this bar hasn't had it sold for more than a year.

SHUNSUKE SHIRAKAWA, OWNER, BROWN SUGAR (through translator): It was a really hard year and I didn't have work. I didn't know what to do.

ESSIG (voice-over): That's because each of the first three times the government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and ask bars and restaurants like Brown Sugar to close early and not serve alcohol after 7:00 p.m., Shirakawa complied.

SHIRAKAWA (through translator): I was listening to what the government was saying. I only worked for a month this year.

ESSIG (voice-over): By the fourth time a state of emergency was declared, Shirakawa had had enough. He said holding the Olympics while cracking down on bars and restaurants is confusing.

Since the latest state of emergency was declared last month, cases in Tokyo have skyrocketed. In fact, record high case counts were reported four different times just last week.

While Dr. Hideaki Oka, an infectious disease specialist says the current surge has been fueled by the Delta variant, counting for about 90 percent of confirmed cases in the capital, he says the Olympics are indirectly related to the rise of COVID-19. DR. HIDEAKI OKA, SAITAMA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY (through translator): The government's decision to push ahead with the Olympics doesn't reflect what the people wanted. People are ignoring the state of emergency, the government is requesting their stay at home. But in holding the Olympics, they sent out a confusing message.

ESSIG (voice-over): Inside the Olympic bubble, cases have remained relatively low. In Tokyo 2020 officials say, the Olympics is not behind the recent surge in host city cases, denying that the games have created a flow of people.

But as you walk the streets of Tokyo and attend various Olympic events, it's clear that's not completely true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There probably won't be another Olympics in Japan in my lifetime. So I wanted to come here to the rings and experience the atmosphere.

ESSIG (voice-over): Despite a ban on spectators in Tokyo, crowds gathered to witness history at the first triathlon mixed relay at the BMX freestyle event. The bridge hundreds of meters away from the venue was packed with people trying to catch a glimpse of Olympic action.

And every day, a large number of people are outside of the National Stadium to take a picture with the Olympic rings. And that according to Dr. Naoto Ueyama, the chairman of Japan Doctors Union, is a big problem. Unless things change, he says cases could triple here in Tokyo within the next two weeks.

DR. NAOTO UEYAMA, CHAIRMAN, JAPAN DOCTORS UNION (through translator): It's often said that there is a time lag of about one or two weeks between the peak of infection and movement of people. The infection is still going to rise.

ESSIG (voice-over): A rise in cases with no end in sight. A crisis that will continue to strain a medical system that doctors say is already on the verge of collapse.


ESSIG: Recently, Japan's top coronavirus adviser says he feels a great sense of danger. That's because he says that the general public does not share a sense of crisis. And there seems to be little chance that the current outbreak can be stopped.

Now, declaring a state of emergency is the strongest measures that the Japanese government can take to stop the spread of infection. But medical professionals say that the mixed messaging by the government is the reason that the order is no longer effective. They call for stronger measures to be taken, including cancelling the Olympics, even at this late stage to send a message to the people that the crisis is real, John.

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

Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. World Sports starts after the break with Patrick Snell.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. Welcome to this live first edition of CNN's World Sport on this day 13 of official competition at Tokyo Summer Games. I'm Patrick Snell.

Twenty-seven gold medals up for grabs. But we start today with a big shock in the men's 110 meter hurdles just a little earlier. Another golden moment for Jamaican sport, though to tell you about much of the focus ahead of this race on the world champion from the United States Grant Holloway, who was actually leading until the final hurdle where that's when he seemed to lose his momentum and it will be Hansel Parchment who takes full advantage just powering his way to victory in a season best time for him, a 13.04 seconds. Huge disappointment though for the 23-year-old Holloway who haven't lost the hurdles race since August of last year.

A silver medal for him there at the Olympic Stadium. Bronze going to another Jamaican competitor Ronald Levy as well.

Meantime, the speedy tracker Tokyo 2020 producing plenty more drama this on Wednesday in Tokyo as the Canadian star Andre De Grasse going one better than his real performance to finally claim gold in the men's 200 meters. He's just got faster and faster, hasn't he, at these games and he would improve his personal bests again in the final to record a time of 19.62 seconds. The 26-year-old crossing the line ahead of two Americans including the world champion himself, Noah Lyles

De Grasse now looking forward to being reunited with his wife, Rio 2016 silver medalist Nia Ali and the rest of the family too.


ANDRE DE GRASSE, CANADIAN SPRINTER, OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020: It's hard to her and the kids. They were screaming up and down, jump in. You know, they're so proud of me.

I mean, I wish I could have had them here with me in Tokyo but of course the circumstances. But um, you know, definitely they're back home going crazy. They're super proud of me.

And I can't wait to go home to them in, what, three days after the relay. So three, four days.


SNELL: And we have to tell you about as historic firsts for Burkina Faso at these games. The country's first ever Olympic medal after Hugues Fabrice Zango securing the bronze. This was in the men's triple high jump. Really special moment indeed.

Zango saying afterwards his achievement extra special given today is Independence Day in his homeland.

Gold going the way of the Portuguese competitor, Petro Pichardo, after he produced a leap of 17.98 meters. A golden moment for him.

Skateboarding, meantime, continues to win and wow new fans after a heartwarming Women's Park event that showed the new Olympic sports story (ph). We have the camaraderie, we have the technical excellence as well. Really wonderful to see.

It will be a Japanese one too, with 19-year-old Sakura Yosozumi pipping 12-year-old yes, 12-year-old, Kokona Hiraki to the title ahead of 13-year-old Japanese born Brits, Sky Brown, barely more than 12 months or so after suffering skull fractures in a life threatening.

For Hiraki now, the youngest Olympic medalist in 85 years, plenty of smiles in this one as the rivals encouraged each other every step of the way.


KOKONA HIRAKI, 12-YEAR-OLD JAPANESE SKATEBORDER (through translator): We are very good friends. And I really like to share this podium together, all together. So that's fantastic.

And Sky and Sakura, we're all very good friends. I'm so happy to be here.

The reason why I went silver is because I'm not nervous, and I really enjoy being here and trying to make all the tricks. So that is why I did well.


SNELL: Meantime, just a short while ago, this Thursday the teens continuing their dominance at the skate park. I can tell you, 18-year- old Keegan Palmer of Australia taking gold in the inaugural Olympic men's park skateboarding competition. The Aussie scoring 95.83 on his final run to take gold.

Silver medal going the way of the young Brazilian competitor Pedro Barros.

And you got to see this, this is another Australian catching headlines during the earlier heat runs. Kieran Woolley crashing into a very unfortunate camera man, this at the end of his first run out. Fortunately though, we can tell you both are fine. And they would fist bump it out afterwards. Woolley finishing fifth in the final there at the end of the day.

There you go. The thumbs up there.

And more history today as Germany's Florian Wellbrock and the Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri become the second and third athletes in Olympic history to medal in both swimming and marathon swimming at a single games. Really cool story.


This Wellbrock, a bronze medalist in the men's 1500 meter freestyle, winning gold in the men's marathon swimming 10 kilometers event, while Paltrinieri, a silver medalist in the 800 meter freestyle taking bronze. Hungary's Kristof Rasovsky earning silver.

Sad to say there was suffering of another kind for world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson as her Olympics would end abruptly. She pulled up coming around the bend of the 200 meters and collapsed onto the track. She waved away help, even refusing a wheelchair to limp to the finish line but was disqualified anyway, for rolling out of her lane. The injury later announces an issue with her right calf. And the Brits games are over.

Well, much more to come from the Tokyo games this Thursday. I will tell you all about this, a really powerful moment, indeed, for the young Arsenal football, the one he's just experienced and what the 19- year-old is now saying about it.


SNELL: Welcome back to this day. More from Tokyo just to head.

First up, though the Inter Milan footballer Christian Eriksen has made an emotional first visit this to his clubs training grounds since collapsing on the field of play after suffering a cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 Group Stage game between his country Denmark and Finland. Less than two months later, the mood is thankfully very different indeed. Great to see him back there embracing and chatting to his teammates.

The Nerazzurri say the 29-year-old who now has a heart starting device fitted is in excellent mental and physical condition. Adding the former Tottenham star will now follow the recovery program put forward by doctors in his homeland. Certainly wish him all the very best.

At this hour, we continue to watch for the potentially blockbuster move of the Aston Villa star, Jack Grealish, to Premier League champs. Man City is being reported the 25-year-old England international, a lifelong Villa fan could be sold for around a British record of $140 million eclipsing what Man United paid eventers in 2016 for Paul Pogba.

And Villa already splashing some of that cash that could well be coming their way. Should the deal go through after confirming the signing of Southampton striker Danny Ings. The 29-year-old England international signing a three-year deal after joining for an undisclosed fee, but that amount reported to be around the $35 million mark.

I do want to get down to a really moving story. This concerning the young Arsenal football, Bukayo Saya, who was so despicably subjected to online racist abuse. This was following England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. Now just look at this as the 19-year-old returning to the (INAUDIBLE) Training Center. And just looked at that wall there which is jam packed with messages of support and encouragement, gifts, letters and a teddy bear there as well. It's wonderful to see Saka saying he was simply left speechless by it all, asking if he could just pick everything up and take it home.

Updating a story we told you about last week when the American BMX racing style Connor Fields suffered a brain hemorrhage, this after competing in the Olympics semifinals. Now we can tell you the 28-year- old is being released from hospital in Tokyo today. Fields, a 2016 Rio gold medalist, crashing during his third run on Friday, before then being stretchered off and taken by ambulance for treatment at the St. Luke's International Hospital in the Japanese Capitol. He'll return to the U.S. state of Nevada for his rehabilitation alongside family and friends.


And we're here at CNN sports absolutely wish Connor all the very best at this time.

But it seems like a long time ago now that Britain's triathlon team one gold and the first ever mixed relay at the Summer Game, it's decisive win, coming second over the weekend giving Johnny Brownlee his first ever gold medal in his last Olympic race after bronze at London 2012 and silver in Rio. He and his teammates speaking to CNN's Blake Essig before flying out of Tokyo.


JONATHAN BROWNLEE, TRIATHLON MIXED RELAY GOLD MEDALIST, G.B.: It's history. It's the first middle, first -- the middle of a mixed team relay. And then picks in -- yes. We can't be that, we're going to be in history books forever.

GEORGIA TAYLOR-BROWN, TRIATHLON MIXED RELAY GOLD MEDALIST, G.B.: It's just really special, yes. Just to be a part of the mixed team relay, the first mixed team relay in the Olympics is quite special, to bring home the gold is even more special. And I think we just have -- got a great team. And we all believe in each other.

ESSIG: Yes, you guys took part in one of several mixed events to debut with these games. Talk about the dynamic that goes into the next events.

BROWNLEE: Well, I think the mixed events are great for Olympics. I think it's what the Olympic movement is all about, equality, male and female competing on the same course, same distance. And also the team aspect of, you know, you are competing as part of a team and you win together and you lose together as well.

And another big thing we had was whatever happened, we won't blame each other. There's no kind of blame culture. Someone has a bad day, you lose together. And that's really, really important.

ESSIG: Despite the restrictions put in place, the crowd size was pretty large. How did that crowd size play a role in your success?

ALEX YEE, TRIATHLON MIXED RELAY GOLD MEDALIST, GREAT BRITAIN: Yes, I mean, it was brilliant to have a crowd again. I guess due to COVID and stuff, we've not been able to have many spectators at all the events so far. But for that to -- yes, to have support and people cheering your name and yes, to be in Japan, and people still calling your name specifically was pretty cool. And yes, it definitely helped to have, I guess, just left the sport, let alone just our performance.

BROWNLEE: The most important thing is the Olympics happened and it happened in a safe environment. And that's what we've got. So, we're just very, very fortunate and appreciative that it has happened.


SNELL: Strong and powerful words and history in the making. They're great to see.

For our teams in Tokyo and of course right here in Atlanta, we do thank you for joining us this Thursday. Plenty more to come from the World Sport team.

Stay with us right through the day. Stay with CNN. Take care. Bye for now.