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S. Korea: Unidentified Projectiles Fired By N. Korea; U.S. Confirms Second Death From Novel Coronavirus; Pete Buttigieg Ends Campaign For U.S. President; African Nations Prepare for Spread after Case in Nigeria; Japan's Sporting Events Played to Empty Stadiums; No Cost for Public Transportation in Luxembourg. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 01:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Live from CNN center in Atlanta, Georgia. Hello, everyone. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Next here, North Korea back at it. South Korean military leaders claiming the North has fired projectiles. We'll have a live report on this developing story, what there might be up to.

Also was the number of coronavirus cases rises. What some countries are doing to contain the spread. And the field keeps getting thinner in the U.S. presidential election. Another Democratic hopeful calling it quits before the country's biggest primary day this Tuesday.

Thank you for joining us. Our top story, we are following developments on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. It says they were launched from the eastern city of Wonsan. This coming just a couple of days after leader Kim Jong-un made a rare public appearance who oversees military drills.

Our Will Ripley is live for us in Tokyo? We know you have been to North Korea many, many times. What do you making of what we're hearing here, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the first military activity we've really seen, Natalie, since the start of the year. Kim Jong-un has been keeping a low profile ever since the coronavirus outbreak that North Korea quickly responded to by closing their borders immediately, banning basically any foreigners from coming in and out of the country. They put foreign diplomats under quarantine. So, it has seemed as if the coronavirus has been sort of dominating North Korean state media. If we can do something about the feedback in my ear, I appreciate it.

But now we're seeing this launch and if history shows us what we can expect, it was probably a missile launch. Although they're still saying projectiles as they analyze the trajectory and what not. We know that they were fired from the East Coast City of Wonsan. This is a site that North Korea has used many times for military tests and launches in the past.

These test launches also come just a couple of days after there was a tactical strike drill that Kim Jong-un oversaw. So clearly North Korea is continuing its military activity. And I think that there's always a message behind this sort of thing, Natalie. A message meant for internal consumption and also a message for the rest of the world.

And I think clearly, North Korea wants the world to know that it is business as usual in terms of their readiness posture, their defensive capabilities. Launches are always a way for Kim Jong-un to project strength, both inside and outside of the country.

And given that there have been a lot of questions about the coronavirus situation inside North Korea, and the fact that we know this Friday, it is believed that the North Korean government will be evacuating dozens of foreign diplomats. This is according to a source of mine, who said that the flight is going to be traveling from Pyongyang on Friday on North Korea's state airline Air Korea, a one- off flight to Vladivostok, Russia. The reason why they're choosing Russia and not Beijing is obviously a lot of countries have traveled bands from Mainland China given the situation inside the country with the virus.

And so perhaps this is an attempt, Natalie, to kind of deflect attention a little bit and to just to keep the focus on the strength of the North Korean government at a time that there are a lot of serious questions about what could happen if this virus which is obviously spreading like wildfire in South Korea were to make its way north, a country that has significantly less capability to respond to people who are sick.

And you see the high death rates and other sanction countries that are behind in terms of their medical capabilities like Iran. And the situation I can tell you in North Korea, if there were to be an outbreak there in terms of the death rate could be significantly worse even than that, Natalie.

ALLEN: Absolutely. All right, Will Ripley following this story for us. Will, we appreciate it. Well, there is a troubling new development at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. The World Health Organization says Hubei province has seen an uptick in new cases for two straight days. The number of new cases had been declining there. Right now the global number of infections stands at more than 88,000. Within 3,000 people have died.

Within the U.S., President Donald Trump announced new screening measures for people arriving from what he called high-risk countries. And on the West Coast, the second U.S. death from the virus is confirmed in Washington State. Officials are investigating a possible outbreak at a long-term nursing facility near Seattle. The outbreak is also affecting Israel's elections. They've set up 16 polling places for nearly 6000 people under self-quarantine. That election going on right now.

And South Korea just reported nearly 500 new cases, bringing their total to more than 4,200. That comes after Italy reported more than 500 new cases over the weekend. Much to follow here. For more on South Korea's surge in new cases, I'm joined by CNN Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson. And Ivan is at a drive-through coronavirus testing center just out of so to tell us how this works. Ivan, Hello.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well make no mistake, Natalie, South Korea is facing a very serious public health crisis. In just two weeks, the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed skyrocketed from 31 to more than 4,200. And we've just heard that the death toll increased to 26 dead in South Korea.

Now, this is one of the somewhat innovative ways -- let me get out of the way because there's a car coming -- that South Korea has come up with to test as many people as quickly as possible. It's a drive-thru coronavirus testing site. South Korea has tested according to the Center for Disease Control here, more than 100,000 people since this epidemic began. It's still waiting for the results on more than 30,000 people.

And to push the testing through, the city of Goyang has set up this free service. Anybody can come here. I just did it, and drive through, and cars go through a number of different stations. The drivers fill out a questionnaire and they get their temperatures checked, and at no point throughout this process does a driver get out of the car.

The authorities are arguing that this helps limit the exposure of patients who could be potentially positive, limits their exposure to doctors and nurses who are so essential, who are on the front lines of this effort. And let me just take you through the process here. There's a questionnaire. One of the key questions that's asked is have you been to the city of Daegu. That is that Southern Korean city that has had more than half of all of the coronavirus cases in the entire country, a major cluster of them. So that's a real indicator of what your risk factor is.

And if you show signs of symptoms, if you've been to that area, if you've been in touch with a member of the South Korean Shincheonji religious group, which also makes up more than half of all cases in the country, then you'll come here and get this test. And right now, we're just seeing the driver of the car has just gotten a swab, jabbed very far up his nose to get a sample there as well as into his throat by the nurses here. And then within two to three days, everybody will get their test results.

If they show signs of symptoms, they can get them in a matter of hours from a temporary quarantine site. The doctors and nurses, they get cleaned off in this booth here that sprays them with disinfectant. It's not an easy job for them. They, for five-hour shifts, they can't drink water, they can't go to the bathroom, and it's cold here in March.

The mayor of the city says he was inspired to set this system up by Starbucks and McDonald's drive-through. In a single day, they can get up to 384 people tested here. And one of the doctors that I've interviewed in the front-line city of Daegu, he argues that this is one of the lessons that countries that are just now beginning to face coronavirus, this is one of the models they could adopt to help them through this public health crisis. Natalie?

ALLEN: Yes, very creative and very important steps are taking and so needed. Ivan, very interesting. Thanks so much for taking us through it. Ivan Watson in South Korea for us. Well, global markets are starting to rebound after the coronavirus calls huge sell-offs last week. Right now, Asian stocks are trading higher despite earlier losses on Monday.

The Shanghai Composite has been leading the charge up more than two percent. And as Asia began to trade, U.S. futures also started to rise. Right now, futures for all major indexes are slightly up as you see there.

As we mentioned, the number of deaths and infections from the virus keeps rising in the United States. So far, there have been two deaths in Washington State and 89 reported cases nationwide. The vice president says the country will likely see even more infections as the disease continues to spread. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more on how the White House is dealing with the outbreak.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they day after the President announced new travel restrictions to try and fight back against the coronavirus epidemic, the President on Sunday taking to Twitter to announce that there will be secondary screenings for passengers coming into the United States who may have traveled to Italy and South Korea. This will be a second screening for those passengers asking them health questions, in particular, to try and see if they have been affected by this coronavirus.


Now, Italy and South Korea have been two of the hardest-hit countries outside of China by this coronavirus epidemic. And on Saturday, the President's increase to a travel advisory warning level four for specific regions in Italy and in South Korea that have been hardest hit by this outbreak. The President is also saying that the U.S. is working to get exit screenings for passengers leaving those countries to try and catch them on the front end.

Now, we know that this administration has had some messaging issues. Earlier in the week, we heard differing messages both from the president and from top health officials about the extent to which this virus would continue to spread. Now, it appears that the administration is starting to get on the same page. And we did hear from Vice President Mike Pence. Here he is speaking with our colleague Jake Tapper about the future of this outbreak.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we know there will be more cases.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And possibly more deaths?

PENCE: And it is possible. I mean, the reality that Dr. Fauci and others explained to me since I took on these duties a few days ago, is that for most people that contract the coronavirus, they will recover. They will deal with a respiratory illness, we'll get them treatment. But for people that have other conditions that would militate toward a worse outcome, that we could have more -- we could have more sad news, but the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.


DIAMOND: And over the weekend, congressional negotiators have been trying to hash out a deal for this emergency funding. Sources familiar with matters say that the two sides are getting closer to an agreement on the emergency funding. It's going to be though, it looks like far more money than the White House was initially asking for. They had asked for just $1.25 billion in new funding. We are now told that that figure is looking closer to $7 billion and perhaps in excess of that.

Of course, the President on Saturday said that he would take whatever money Congressional appropriators wants to give. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: Democrat Pete Buttigieg has dropped out of the U.S. presidential race. He broke the news Sunday evening to his supporters in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg was the first gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates for a major party's nomination. But he struggled to reach voters of color, a key Democratic base.

Still Pete Buttigieg surprise many with his strong showing in their early voting states, he won Iowa, and a fervent base of support he built.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values. And so, we must recognize that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together. So tonight, I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency. I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January.

AMERICAN CROWD: 2024! 2024! 2024!


ALLEN: Joining me now, Dr. James Boys. He's a political analyst and expert of U.S. political history and the author of the book, Clinton's War on Terror: Redefining U.S. Security Strategy. Dr. Boys, thanks for coming on. Thank you, Natalie. It's great to speak to you.

ALLEN: Let's begin with Pete Buttigieg. He won the first contest for the Democrats. He won Iowa and then boughs out right before Super Tuesday. Did that surprise you?

Well, I think the challenge is that it was very difficult to see quite where Pete Buttigieg's campaign was going to be going. They have to be able to see a route I think to the nomination, otherwise, they're just going to act to spoilers.

And when you look at the states that are going to be voting come Tuesday, those giant states like Texas, California, for example, states like Massachusetts, it was very difficult to see where Pete Buttigieg was going to pick up any serious delegates when you see the polling for the moments and who it is that's leading.

He was, I think at great risk of coming in under the 15 percent floor in many of those states and basically getting no return whatsoever for his money. So I think this was a wise choice. It certainly helps Joe Biden, I think, coming out of his victory in South Carolina as well.


ALLEN: Well, let's talk quickly about the Buttigieg campaign. When he first came on the scene, all of us here at singing, they were like, where, what, South Bend? What's this guy's name? And look where he went. He talked about values and what he stood for with his followers when he bowed out. But he also talked about being the first openly gay candidate who won delegates in the primary. So what is his candidacy say in the bigger picture?

BOYS: There's no doubt about it. I think that Pete Buttigieg has certainly broken boundaries within the Democratic Party. He has, as you rightly said, the -- been the first openly gay candidate to pick up delegates moving forward through this primary season. But I think that challenges that he spoke with a relatively narrow part of the Democratic Party. And as I'm sure many of your viewers are aware, the Democratic Party is a very broad church, and you need to get a very broad coalition if you're going to win the presidency.

And that involves getting the African American community, which looked like Pete Buttigieg was really struggling to claw onto. We saw the results in South Carolina, for example. And again, if you look at the states that are going to be voting on Tuesday, those states in the south, it looked particularly unlikely I think that he was going to be moving forward.

So I think he's got a bright future. He's done better than expected this time around. But I would certainly say that this is not the last we're going to hear of Mayor Pete.

ALLEN: Right his followers, of course, chanting 2024, so we shall see about that. So Tom Steyer is out, Pete Buttigieg is out, Klobuchar, Warren hanging in right before Super Tuesday. Now we've got Biden with the momentum, we have Bernie at the top and then enter wildcard Bloomberg. What do you expect on Super Tuesday?

BOYS: Well, it's going to be a wild ride, I think, Natalie. If you look at the states, they're going to be voting -- you know, it looks like Joe Biden despite the big bounce he's getting in terms of fundraising coming out of South Carolina, he appears to be riding off California. It looks like -- I think Sanders is he's going to do very, very well.

They're likely in Texas, we may have the unbelievable site of a socialist winning the Democratic primary in Texas who thought that possible. It looks also as though Bernie Sanders who was here in Boston, very much nipping at the heels of Elizabeth Warren. He's also going to be trying very hard to embarrass Klobuchar in her home state as well.

So I think it's going to be a good night for Bernie Sanders. The big question I think is how much can Joe Biden nipple his heels and pick up those voters which are now going to peel off I think, from Pete Buttigieg. The great wild card is Bloomberg, quite frankly. He's spending a fortune, astronomical amounts of money. He's betting the farm on Super Tuesday.

And if you look at some of the polling, which I appreciate we may have to take it a pinch of salt because of Buttigieg's sudden exit, Bloomberg come away with this with very little to show for his investment I think.

ALLEN: Yes. If I could just correct you. He's actually betting the farms. That's how much money he's spending.

BOYS: Yes, indeed. All the farms.

ALLEN: Yes, all of the farms, exactly. Well, I was reading an article by Tom Friedman in the New York Times, an acclaimed columnist and author who said, if the Democratic Party doesn't unite at some point -- it cannot be a Bernie Sanders wing, it cannot be a Biden wing. It's got to unite or it will not beat Donald Trump. How critical is that in your view?

BOYS: Yes, that's right. There's no doubt about it. If you go back four years to 2016, it's important to remember that Donald Trump in most of the primaries was not the -- was not favored by the majority of voters in those states, but he was backed by the largest minority of voters. So he was routinely winning those primaries with, you know, sort of 35, 45 percent of the vote.

What that meant was that if the rest of the delegates have dropped out, it's entirely possible that a stop Trump candidate could have emerged if that happened early enough.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate your insights and your expertise. Dr. James Boys, thanks so much for coming on.

BOYS: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: OK, 2020 in the U.S. is a few months away, but Israeli voters are back at the polls. They're voting right now, and they're doing so for the third time and less than a year. Coming up, the latest ever to break the country's power deadlock.



PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Good Monday to you. I'm Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, CNN Weather Watch. Eastern third of the United States, massive frontal boundary and a slow-moving (INAUDIBLE) here over the next couple of days. Brings with it a chance of some strong storms, some of which could be severe across this region and certainly Super Tuesday not too far away. So a lot of people are going to be turning out for voting activity and of course, severe weather certainly not going to help out either.

And this is the concern moving across portions of Texas on into the Ark-La-Tex region in particular where at least a level two concern is still in place there. Damaging winds, some large hail, you can't rule out a few isolated tornadoes, and of course, severe weather season not too far away, so not too unusual to see this sort of a perspective.

But notice the weather does push in from that region on into portions of the Carolinas there from Monday into Tuesday. It kind of remains in place there for a couple of days to keep it rather wet through at least parts of this week. Atlanta, rain showers expected on Monday, 15 degrees. Vancouver, British Columbia, about seven degrees with wet weather. Los Angeles will take you with sunny skies there at 23 degrees in the afternoon forecast. And notice the colder air does eventually return. It doesn't say frigid, it doesn't say Arctic since the trend there quite a cooler but not too bad for this time of year.

In New York City, middle T's for a few days here. Once it does cool off, it gets down to around the four or so degrees by Saturday afternoon. And maybe with the Caribbean, temps in Kingston, Jamaica around 30 degrees.


ALLEN: Israelis are going to the polls for the third time in less than one year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking an unprecedented fifth term, leading the right-wing Likud Party. His main challenger, former Army Chief Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White Party. Neither party is expected to win enough seats for a governing majority.

Yes, we said that before. Journalist Elliott Gotkine is at a polling station in Jerusalem. It seems like it's deja vu all over again, Elliot.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: It really does, Natalie. It's quite incredible to think that over the course of the past 12 months or so, we've already had two elections. They were inconclusive. And here we are again doing the same thing all over again with opinion polls suggesting that we're going to get exactly the same outcome. It should be said that that's not putting people off from voting. We

have seen -- I think he described it as a trickle rather than a torrent of voters turning up at this polling station in Jerusalem. It's still quite early hours though. Polls have been open for just over an hour. They will remain open until 10:00 p.m. this evening local time.

It's also worth noting that today's election day, just like all election days, is a public holiday. So what a lot of people do is they cast their vote and then go out for the day or go shopping, or they do it the other way around. So I don't think Israelis, certainly not at this polling station are in any rush to cast their vote, but they know that they got plenty of time to do so.


ALLEN: Right. What's behind this yet another deadlock? Why do we see still keep coming back to this?

GOTKINE: It's for a couple of reasons. But first and foremost, is that you've got a divided country. That you've got the supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party and their allies set against the supporters of Benny Gantz and his allies. And then you've also, of course, got the joint list, which is an amalgamation of Arab parties, which is actually the third biggest in Parliament as well.

So that's one reason. You've got a divided electorate. I think the other reason and what prevented perhaps a government of national unity being formed after the second elections that we had here is that Prime Minister Netanyahu was fighting not only for his political life, but also for his liberty. He is of course, facing charges. His trial begins in facts in a couple of weeks. And so long, even if he's found guilty until such time as he is found guilty and exhausted the entire appeals process, he could remain Prime Minister.

It should be said that he denies the charges. His supporters believe him that it's just a kind of a plot, a witch hunt cooked up by the liberal elite. And so, in that respect, they will stand steadfastly behind him. But likewise, so were those who believe that Netanyahu was guilty and that he should go to jail. They will remain steadfast opposing him.

So you've got a divided country. You've got a prime minister who is refusing to budge because he feels that he's more protected from these charges. And as a result, deadlock.

ALLEN: Elliott Gotkine reporting for us there, thank you so much, Elliot. We'll see the outcome pretty soon. Well, the Tokyo marathon was limited to only elite runners in hopes of containing the coronavirus. But it's not the only support sporting event in Japan being affected. We're live in Tokyo with more on the outbreak's impact there.


[01:30:35] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Natalie Allen here with your top stories this hour.

North Korea has fired two short-range projectiles in the sea according to the South Korean defense ministry. It says they were launched near the eastern city of Wonsan. Japan says no damage has been reported.

Democrat Pete Buttigieg is out of the U.S. presidential race. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor broke the news to a spirited home town crowd Sunday night. He is the first openly-gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates for a major party's nomination.

The number of coronavirus cases has jumped sharply in Italy and South Korea. On Sunday both countries reported more than 500 new infections from the previous day. And South Korea reporting nearly 500 more hours ago. Worldwide the disease has killed more than 3,000 people.

Nigeria recorded its first case of coronavirus last week when someone from Italy traveled to Lagos. The World Health Organization says Africa could be hit harder by an outbreak than China.

CNN's David McKenzie is live from Johannesburg. And David, the WHO says only eight countries in Africa are adequately equipped for the coronavirus. What are they doing to try and change that?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Natalie -- behind the scenes there's been a scramble by the African CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here on the continent to try and get Africa ready. The continent and the various countries in this continent, to diagnose and contain this virus.

I spoke to the head of the African CDC. He says the only viable strategy at this point is to quickly find out if someone has this virus and then contain it because the alternative is extremely dangerous.


DR. JOHN NKENGASONG, DIRECTOR AFRICAN CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's dangerous because of several reasons. One is that it our health system is not strong enough to provide those respiratory support systems that are required to care for patients that are infected as we've seen in China.

There are very few countries who have those systems in place in their hospitals to care for a large number of patients. They may be able to care for some patients, but not a large number of patients if they are overwhelmed like what we are seeing in China.

MCKENZIE: So it is clearly important to really stop this virus in its tracks everywhere but particularly in Africa. If we cannot do that, what is the scenario for health systems?

NKENGASONG: We have to -- we don't have a choice. We have to scale up our ability to train many people quickly on infection prevention, control, to enhance the screening of our ports of entry as quickly as possible to cascade the diagnostics into the country so that our strategy continues to be rapid detection and rapid containment. Because there's now way our health systems will be rapidly improve to be able to cope with a large outbreak like what we have seen in China.

MCKENZIE: If you see communal transmission in countries like Nigeria and other African countries, should borders close?

NKENGASONG: If we begin to see community transmission there, which is a scenario which we truly don't want to see happen, because that will mean and ensure the sustained transmission becomes very difficult to contain.

At that point, we can't speak anymore of a containment strategy, we move to a mitigation strategy. What do we do to mitigate the effect on the community? That would require that we start closing down places of mass gatherings -- the churches, schools, public facilities, and then we have a severe economic impact and social impact on the continent.


MCKENZIE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) to this Natalie -- about 20 percent of people at this the stage are believed have serious symptoms when they get coronavirus. That might even require respiratory help in an ICU. Many countries on the continent just don't have that capacity.

So it's both a threat to the people who might get sick if there is community spread, but also clogging up hospitals or other major illnesses that the continent has to deal with.


MCKENZIE: You saw that in the ebola outbreak in 2014. A huge spike in malaria cases because people were too afraid to go to the hospital.

So the head of the African CDC told me that Nigeria particularly has passed the first test, rapidly diagnosing and containing the problem, but there is still a long battle to go -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Right. The complexities are mind-boggling -- they truly are. Dave McKenzie -- thank you for that report.

The coronavirus is now affecting sports. In Japan, baseball games are being played in empty stadiums. The Tokyo marathon was limited to only lead runners instead of thousands of participants. And don't forget, of course, the 2020 Olympic games are fast approaching in Tokyo.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us there, live. Some -- I guess empty seats is not something that you can even pull off with the Olympic Games. People would want to come. So that is not a solution -- Blake but not sure what is at this point.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, we'll just have to wait and see what the solution ends up being. But it was a busy weekend here in sports crazed Japan. But Natalie -- no one was here to see it. Perhaps, it was a bit of a precursor to what the Olympics could look like if the coronavirus continues to be a problem.


ESSIG: To be a part of this, Mark Dawson and his family travel nearly 5,000 miles from Vancouver, Canada.

But standing, watching as these elite runners pass by was not what he had in mind.

MARK DAWSON, WOULD BE RACE PARTICIPANT: I was here to run the marathon.

ESSIG: Only around 8 percent of applicants gained entry to the Tokyo marathon. Dawson waited seven years for his chance.


DAWSON: A little bit of heartbreak.

ESSIG: Less than 200 runners, only the very best were allowed to compete on Sunday which meant Dawson's dream is delayed by an outbreak that Japan is desperate to contain.

From 30,000 runners to this here in Japan -- this is now what sports looks like in the age of coronavirus. Typically there would be tens of thousands of fans lining these streets to cheer on these runners. But right, now take a look around. In comparison, nobody is here.

On the other side of town, the time-tested traditions of baseball still play out. Ushers make the rounds before the starting lineups are announced. Echoing through the empty 55,000-seat Tokyo dome.

It is bizarre and almost unnatural to be at a professional baseball game in Japan inside a stadium that seats 55,000 people and nobody is here. It is so quiet, it is almost uncomfortable to make a sound. Listen to this.

MATT CAULK, BASEBALL PLAYER: It was a little weird, which is to be expected, I guess.

ESSIG: That is former Major League pitcher Matt Caulk. He never imagined his first year in Japan would play out like this. A surreal atmosphere which Tokyo Giants batting coach Warren Cromartie says will take a little bit of time for players to adjust.

WARREN CROMARTIE, BATTING COACH, TOKYO GIANTS: I think the players will realize just how much the fans really are a part of the game. It is really quieter, the balls jump off the bat al little bit, you can hear the smack of the ball and bat meet a little bit more. But it's still a game you still have to go at it and do your thing.

MCKENZIE: As for Dawson, he says he will be back to run next year. But with the largest sporting event in Tokyo 2020 less than five months away, the fear is that this becomes Japan's new normal.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ESSIG: Regarding the Olympics Natalie -- despite speculation that the games could be canceled or postpone until 2021, IOC chief Thomas Bach recently came out and said that the committee is fully committed to Tokyo 2020 as it is currently scheduled.

ALLEN: All right. We'll cross our fingers for that one.

Great reporting there. And it was very creepy to see you in that empty baseball stadium -- Blake. Thank you.

Well, a fresh idea for commuters in Luxembourg, just ahead. Why public transportation fares have become a thing of the past.



ALLEN: Luxembourg is the first country in the world to make public transit free for all. Who doesn't like that? But Lynda Kinkade found out they are hoping this idea will help clear up the streets and the air.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From trams to buses to trains -- there are no more tickets to buy or fares to pay in Luxembourg. Charges for public transportation are now a thing of the past.

FRANCOIS BAUSCH, LUXEMBOURG MOBILITY MINISTER: The main reason is to have better quality of mobility. And then the side reason is purely also environmental issues. Climate change, for example.

KINKADE: In an effort to reduce congestion and pollution, Luxembourg is becoming the first country to offer free public transportation for all standard class fares. It's a move officials estimate will affect about 40 percent of households.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It definitely have impact because I used to drive. Actually in terms of the money I will be saving, it's better to get public transport. It makes a lot of sense to just start taking the bus every single day.

KINKADE: Although its population is only around about 600,000 Luxembourg has the most number of cars per 1,000 people in the European Union. Nearly a quarter of a million daily commuters ride in from neighboring France, Germany or Belgium for work.

The traffic jams have not only become a headache for travelers but contribute to more than half of the country's green house gas emissions.

NIKA MARGETA, CROATION NATIONAL LIVING AND WORKING IN LUXEMBOURG: It is more environmentally-friendly to take public transport in my case because the bus is electric, at least for a certain part of the city. So that is definitely an incentive not to drive a car everyday. KINKADE: If free public transport succeeds in reducing pollution and the number of cars on the road. The government hopes it will set a gold standard for other countries to follow suit.

BAUSCH: Come to us and see us work with this together so that we can improve the system and that it can be a model also for other urban areas worldwide.

KINKADE: As ticket machines are gradually removed from stations, commuters and climate activists alike will wait to see the full impact and enjoy a free ride to anywhere inside Luxembourg.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


ALLEN: Nice idea there.

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Natalie Allen. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AllenCNN.

"WORLD SPORT" coming up next.

It's my weekend. Have a good one.