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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

NYC Mayor: "The Last Time We Did A Remote Option, Children Were Not Learning"; "Cyber Ninjas" Group Closing After Partisan "Fraudit" Of AZ Vote; Tennis Star In Detention Awaiting Hearing On Fate. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, again.

Topping this hour of 360, and having a hectic week, of all things COVID, a conversation with New York Mayor Eric Adams. He's responsible for the nation's largest public school system. He's committed to keeping classrooms, open, for learning. He also is pushing New Yorkers, to start thinking differently, about how we all live with COVID.

President Biden today talked about this new normal, some of his former advisors are urging, better planning for it. We'll speak with one of them shortly.

And of course, there's the problem of where we actually are, at this moment, with new cases, now averaging more than 615,000, a day, and deaths, according to new figures, out, within the hour, now averaging close to 1,500 a day. So, for whatever signs there are that the new Omicron variant's less deadly than prior strain, the sheer bulk of cases is now driving deaths up.

A lot to talk about tonight. First, Mayor Adams, I spoke to him, shortly before airtime.


COOPER: Mayor Adams, appreciate you joining us.

You have been extremely busy, and extremely firm that even as COVID cases spike, kids, among schools that the children will remain in schools, and schools will remain open.

We've seen the problems in Chicago, between the city government and teachers union. Do you anticipate having the same problems in New York with the unions?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: The difference, I believe, on what is happening in Chicago, in New York, is something that has played out behind-the-scene. I did something that people don't do often. I communicated. I've communicated with the UFT, with my other administrators, and leaders. And we talked about how do we get through this together? We delivered and had sent 1.5 million test kits to our schools that were there, and ready to be utilized on Monday.

We coordinated and talked. And that is how we came together. And so, I think that we should really applaud the UFT, the teachers, the administrators, my team here, to say this is how we're going to get stuff done, in New York.

COOPER: That's been one of the complaints, of teachers, in Chicago, or the teachers union in Chicago, is lack of access to testing.

Earlier today, I think nearly 30 New York City and State lawmakers, they wrote an open letter. They were urging you to provide a remote option, for all schools, for two weeks, to slow the spread of COVID. Does that make sense to you?

ADAMS: No, it does not. And I understand their passions, and their concerns, and their representation. And I communicated with some of them.

But let's be clear on this. The last time we did a remote option, children were not learning. And you can't have a false remote option. I'm going to build out one of the best remote-learning processes, in our country. But I need time to do so.

But the product we did was inferior. We can't continue to hurt the education of our children. And think about the children, where English is a second language, or those children, who live in homeless shelters, and don't have access to Wi-Fi, or don't have two meals to three meals a day.

We need our children in school. And this is not Eric's opinion. Every expert has stated that not having children in school, is going to impact their socialization, the skills, of how to be in an environment, with others.

We need children in school. And that is what I'm going to do, as long as I know I could do it, in a healthy way. And we believe we can do that. And we proved that.

COOPER: You've said to businesses, big banks, for example, that they need to bring their workers back to the office. You cite the effect on other businesses that serve those office workers, dry cleaners, restaurants, et cetera.

If those restaurants are busy, and there's an outbreak, in the kitchen, and the restaurant could have to shut down, until their staff can come back, to work, is that better for the health of that business?

ADAMS: It is. And I speak to my restaurant owners. Here's what we're doing, in New York. You have to be vaccinated, to get inside the restaurants. We're doing it in a smart way. And this is not 2020. This is 2022. Thank God for modern science, and the collaboration, across the globe, we have something called vaccines, and booster shots. And we're going to have anti-viral pills.


This is amazing, what we did, as a globe, how we came together, to defeat COVID virus. And if we open up, and ensure with the vaccine mandate that everyone inside there is vaccinated, and encourage booster shots, we can start opening our city.

We can't continue to live within the confines of COVID. It is time for us to get back to work, and allow our small business to operate. And I'm excited about that possibility. And if the businesses open, the accountants (ph) go to the restaurant, bring business travelers, back to New York City, we will start seeing our financial ecosystem improve.

COOPER: You announced Wednesday, $111 million would be dedicated, to helping New York City Health and Hospitals, during the Omicron wave. How's that money going to be used, with staffing problems that we're already seeing, in hospital systems, across the country?

ADAMS: And that's a real challenge. And actually, we were successful in utilizing and leveraging over $130 billion.

And - but what I'm really proud about is our great Senior Senator, from New York. Senator Chuck Schumer brought us $1.1 billion, to shore up the staffing, to make sure we have the supplies that we need. He has advocated, for making sure our hospitals are up and ready to run.

But Anderson, I want to keep going back. The science is clear. If you are vaccinated, and you have a booster shot, you are less likely to go to the hospital, and less likely to die. So yes, people will say "Well, I have my vaccine and booster shot, but I caught COVID." But you know what? You're less likely to be hospitalized.

If we want to help our health care professionals, it is about getting vaccinated and booster shots. And the dollars that are coming in, from Washington, and from the State, and from some of our private companies, our financial institutions, they are helping us leverage the resources, to get out nurses, and doctors, the resources that they need.

COOPER: Mayor Eric Adams, I appreciate it. Thank you.

ADAMS: Thank you very much. Take care.


COOPER: So, more now, on what a new normal, with endemic COVID might look like.

Joining us, the University of Minnesota's Michael Osterholm, one of six former advisors, to President Biden, publishing pieces, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, calling for policymakers, to start laying out goals, and strategies, for post-pandemic life with COVID.

Also with us, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, last hour, I spoke with the Chicago's Mayor. As you know, the schools there were closed, over COVID disputes, a third straight day today. You hear from Mayor Adams, here, who's determined to keep schools open.

What do you make of the way schools in big cities have handled back- to-school this week?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the Department of Education, 96 percent of schools have been open. So, they've had a variety of strategies in different places, as your two interviews have shown.

But I think what we've learned, over the past year, past year and a half, is that with certain strategies, schools can be a safe place. The Test-to-Stay strategy that Mayor Adams was talking about, but also masking and ventilation, all the other things that we've learned, over the last couple of years, in terms of reducing the spread.

I think there is an issue, which is right now, there is a lot of virus out there. I mean, we're in the middle of a significant viral storm. So, 13 percent of students testing positive, I can tell you, my own kids' school district, 10 percent of kids, testing positive. So, there's a lot of people.

I mean, the numbers will come back down. The storm, or at least the acute phase of the storm, will start to diminish a bit. I think it'll be safer then. But schools overall can be a safe place.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, today, President Biden said, quote, "COVID, as we're dealing with it now, is not here to stay." You're one of six of the President's former advisors, who wrote of the need, for a new normal, and planning for a new normal, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So, talk about what this new normal will look like, and how close, you think it may be.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, FORMER MEMBER, BIDEN'S TRANSITION COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, first of all, we have to do something different. As we recognize now, trying to vaccinate our way, out of each of these new variants, is going to pose a challenge.

Vaccines will continue to be a very critical part of that. But we have to acknowledge, we don't know that a new variant won't appear, two months from now, that may escape the immune protection, from our current vaccines, and from that of any previous infection.

So, what we need is, first of all, improve on our vaccines. And you're going to see a lot of work, being done, to try to get us what we call, the next-generation vaccines. The second thing that I think is really important, and Sanjay can surely attest to this, back in 1981, 1982, 1983, having HIV was a death sentence. And we have fundamentally changed that, into a managed chronic disease, for many people today, because of therapeutics, drugs.

And I think what we're going to see happening, over the course of the next, weeks to months, is a much more wide-scale availability, of these very effective drugs, if given early in the illness, can actually greatly reduce the likelihood of severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths.


So, if you combine vaccines and drugs together, I think we really can put a big dent, in this virus, not just in high-income countries, but around the world.

COOPER: And Professor Osterholm, I mean, what do you think the dangers are, if the administration doesn't? I mean, are you talking about a change in strategy?

OSTERHOLM: No. And, in fact, I think these series of articles have been represented by many, as if somehow we were disagreeing, or it's an adversarial position. Quite the opposite, actually.

We've had the luxury of being one step back, behind the front lines. We've not had to deal day-in and day-out, which this administration, as well as every country, around the world, has had to do.

So, what we're saying is "OK. Here we are. This is what we know. This is what we must do. What do we want the future to look like?" So, we're talking about planning, for what it might look like six months, to 12 months, down the road.

So, in this case, the administration has been very open. We've had many conversations with them. We've had conversations with public health officials, around the world.

So, I think, it's at a time now, where? I mean, imagine a year ago, Anderson, would we have anticipated, we'd be here, a year later, with the vaccines, now coming on the market? And so, what we need to do is anticipate what this future might look like, and how do we get us back to that new normal.

COOPER: Sanjay, do you see if - I mean, do you agree with that, Sanjay?

I'm wondering, in that new normal, in that new future, do you see you - yourself, you know - well, I guess you have masks with you, because you're a doctor. But I mean, I sort of imagine carrying a mask, in my backpack, even in the new normal, just in case.

GUPTA: Yes. I think that I would too. I mean, even outside the hospital, even in my non-doctor sort of life, I mean, I think, the weather sort of analogy, the idea that you're going to have surges, of virus, from time to time.

I mean, even before this pandemic, I mean, one can make the argument that with flu, if people masked, during flu season, or during, the height of flu season, at least, it would cut down, on flu deaths.


GUPTA: Up to 60,000 people die of flu every year.

But also, this new normal that Professor Osterholm was talking about, the idea that this is the world, in which we live now, we're increasingly encroaching on habitats that are going to release, more and more viruses.

And, we have to think about this, I think, in a different way. We often did think about this as "A hurricane is coming. Shelter in place. See what happens. Assess the damage afterwards." We don't have to be so reactionary, I think. And we've been reactionary, for a long time.

There were steps, in the early 2000s, towards a Pandemic Preparedness Plan. There were steps after the 1918 flu. But, as time goes on, if we don't deal with this acutely, people's attention spans and memories are short.

But hopefully, some of these plans, which I've read, those papers, Professor Osterholm, and others wrote, they will set us up better, for the future. Right now, we're still in the middle of a crisis.


GUPTA: I got to tell you, 132 people - 132,000 people, in the hospital, we're almost at January 2021 peak. So, these plans are for the future. Right now, we still got to deal with the acute crisis.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Professor Osterholm, we're averaging, currently, more than 615,000 new cases, a day, more than 1,400 deaths a day, and, as Sanjay said, more than 125,000 people hospitalized.

Explain the strain it's putting on the health care systems and hospitals right now.

OSTERHOLM: Well, it's very difficult to put this, really, in human terms, in the sense of understanding, what it's like to be in a hospital, where you're begging health care workers, who have just tested positive, in the last day, for the virus, who are not that severely ill, to continue working, because if they didn't, there would be no one else, by the bedside, for eight hours.

We're looking at the situation. We're just getting life-saving drugs to our communities. You know, how many pharmacies are closing, around the country, right now, because they don't have the drugs? Because the warehouses and the drivers can't get them there? Or more importantly, there's nobody to open the pharmacy, and keep it going?

We're seeing our food shelves cut short, right now. Go look at grocery stores.

Even something as simple as oxygen? We looked at the low-income countries, of the world, during their worst Pandemic days. We thought, "Oh! It's terrible! How come they can't have oxygen, for their hospitalized patients?"

We have outbreaks now, beginning to emerge, in some of our oxygen production facilities. And I can tell you, right now, we have many cases, three days or four days of oxygen, on hand, in our hospitals. And that's it.


OSTERHOLM: So, I mean, you're going to see this really, in the next three weeks, as Sanjay just said, I think, really come to a head. And that's even true with our schools.

Schools aren't going to close because somebody decided to. It's when you don't have enough teachers, to show up.


OSTERHOLM: To even begin to safely have school, or you have a quarter to half your students out. That's what's going to ultimately impact schools. It's not going to be some administrative decision.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, Sanjay, I appreciate it. Thank you.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, as we end a week, marking the anniversary, of the attack, on democracy, we'll talk about the ongoing threat that still exists, on the state and local level.

Joining us shortly is Colorado's Secretary of State.


And later, Senator Ted Cruz, throwing himself, at the mercy of a cable TV entertainer, casting his dignity, such as it is, or was, to the political wind. We'll talk about it with the Political Correspondent, Jon Karl, Author, of "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show."


COOPER: A day after marking the anniversary, of the worst attack, on democracy, since the Civil War, want to talk more about the ongoing threat to it, something the President mentioned, in his remarks, at the Capitol.

To that end, replacing Democratic and Republican state election officials, who've traditionally done their jobs, in a nonpartisan fashion, with supporters of the former President, and the "Big lie." In our last hour, Chris Krebs, the federal official, who was fired, after rejecting the former President's baseless claims, of widespread voter fraud, said, more attention should be paid to this.

And, according to CNN reporting, nationwide, more than a dozen Republicans, who have questioned the integrity, of the 2020 election, are now running to be Chief Elections Officers, including in many key swing States.

On a related note, that shadowy company that conducted Arizona's farcical electoral audit, is closing down.


The so-called Cyber Ninjas, today, cited millions of dollars, in debt, from the process. Comes after, officials, in Maricopa County, this week, released a detailed rebuttal of the claims that they made, concluding that 76 of 77 were false or misleading.

Joining us now, another election official, on the front lines, of democracy, is at work, Colorado's Secretary of State, Jena Griswold.

Secretary Griswold, appreciate you being back with us.

So, as the top elections official, in Colorado, what goes through your mind, when you hear about the number of Republicans, many of them loyalists, to the former President, in swing States, and, supporters themselves, of the "Big lie," running for key positions, like yours?

JENA GRISWOLD, (D) COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thanks for having me on, Anderson. And what goes through my mind is concern, major concern.

In every swing state, where there's a Secretary of State race, in 2022, there is a Republican candidate, who is either, at the Insurrection, or lying about 2020, including, here in Colorado, where there are two Republicans running, who are election-deniers.

And it's akin to electing someone, who's an arsonist, to oversee a fire department. It's very troubling.

But it's more than just these top election officials. It's also the focus on county officials. Insiders, like, Steve Bannon, have recruited folks, to apply to those positions. So, we are seeing the tilting of election administration. And we need to act urgently.

COOPER: So, what could somebody with, you know - I mean, there's nothing wrong with having Republican election officials, as long as they are willing to just do the job, in a non-partisan way, as you do, or as any election official, is supposed to do.

But if somebody is a supporter of the "Big lie," and is particularly trying to get in these positions, what would they possibly be able to do?

GRISWOLD: Well, you're absolutely right. There's great election administrators, on both sides of the aisle.

And I actually asked a judge, to appoint my predecessor, who I ran against in 2018, to oversee a county for me, after the local Republican county clerk chose to compromise, voting equipment, trying to prove these lies.

And I think there's a couple of things that Secretaries of State, who did not believe in democracy, or election officials, who are trying to destroy, from within, could do. They include voter roll purges, insider threats, where someone is trying to compromise voting equipment, and pushing massive disinformation.

Imagine, on January 6 of 2021, if key Secretaries of State, from key swing States, were gas-lighting, the American people? That in itself would create a level of distrust, in our election system. So, I do think that these - what is happening, needs to be paid attention to.

And luckily, voters will have a good opportunity, in 2022. Democracy is going to be on the ballot. And we need to ensure that Secretaries of State are elected, who believe in the right to vote, and upholding the will of the people.

COOPER: How easy it is to find - how easy is it to find out, about the people, who are running, for these positions? I mean, in a lot of places, these aren't big campaigns that people pay attention to.

GRISWOLD: Well, I think that's a great place for the media to come in. And there has been more media attention, on Secretary of State's races, because of what happened in 2020.

Secretaries of State, on both sides of the aisle, were responsible, for making sure the American people, could have their voices heard, during the Pandemic. And we saw what happened after that.

The Georgia Secretary of State was asked for, by the President of the United States, to find boats that didn't exist. In Arizona, and Michigan, we've seen lots of things, to try to undermine confidence.

So, because of 2020, there is a renewed sense, and a renewed focus, on these races. And I think it's really important that media, and voters, frankly, ask every candidate, "Do you believe the 2020 election was free and fair? And will you stand with the American people, in upholding the vote, when it's cast?"

COOPER: I'm wondering where you see things going from here? As we mentioned, Cyber Ninjas, this company that oversaw the ridiculous or fake Arizona so-called audit, is going out of business. What effect do you think that will have to proponents of the "Big lie?"

Because there were a lot of legislators, from around the country, who went to, observe it, whatever that means, the so-called audit, in Arizona, and are now trying to push for audits, in their states.

GRISWOLD: Yes, including a state legislator, here, in the State of Colorado. I think, unfortunately, it will not have that big of effect, on proponents of the "Big lie's" pushed to spread disinformation. The Cyber Ninjas, the fake audits, in Maricopa County, it was never about the truth. It was about undermining confidence even more.


And I think that what we are seeing is the "Big lie" getting bigger. That's then used suppress the vote, attack institutions, and attack confidence, in elections, so that the next time a presidential candidate loses, who doesn't like the outcome of the race, it will be easier, to contest the validity of the election.

So, that's why we really need folks, to be paying attention, because there's things that the U.S. Senate could do, States could do, and American voters could do, to make sure that democracy survives, and this country remains the Great United States of America, for decades, and centuries, to come.

COOPER: Right. Jena Griswold, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

GRISWOLD: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Coming up more, on Texas Senator Ted Cruz, rewriting his own history, about his view of January 6 Insurrection, not to mention surrendering whatever dignity, he had, under pressure from Tucker Carlson.

We'll talk to veteran Washington reporter, Jonathan Karl, about the latest example, of fealty, before facts, in today's GOP, next.


COOPER: More on the surprising moment of clarity, for Senator Ted Cruz, this week, after Fox decided that he committed a foul.

Here it is, his entirely true statement, made on the eve of the anniversary, of the January 6 Insurrection.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We are approaching a solemn anniversary, this week. And it is an anniversary, of a violent terrorist attack, on the Capitol.



COOPER: So, no reasonable person really could challenge that sentiment, which is why Fox News' Tucker Carlson proceeded to do just that.

So, Senator Cruz, scrambled to get back, into Carlson's good graces, by trying to get on his program, and then trying to set the record anything but straight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: As a result of my sloppy phrasing, it's caused a lot of people to misunderstand what I meant. Let me tell you what I meant to say.

I wasn't saying that the thousands of peaceful protesters, supporting Donald Trump, are somehow terrorists. I wasn't saying the millions of patriots, across the country, supporting President Trump, are terrorists. And that's what a lot of people have misunderstood that comment.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Wait a second. But even you--

CRUZ: I was focused - yes?

CARLSON: Wait but hold on. What you just said doesn't make sense.

CRUZ: The reason I use that word, for a decade, I have referred to people, who violently assault Police officers, as terrorists.


COOPER: Even if you deviate just a little bit, from the Fox party line, they kneecap you! Even Carlson seemed baffled by the Texas Two Step of the Senator!

"It was sloppy," as he called it, he's been making a big old mess, for quite a while. Because, by CNN's count, he's called it a terrorist attack, or generally called, rioters, "Terrorists," 17 times, previously. And that includes written statements and tweets. Maybe we should just be generous and call it a case of serial sloppiness.

CNN asked Cruz's spokesperson, for an explanation. What we got, no surprise, was trash-talk about our network, and others, yada, yada, but no actual answer.

Jonathan Karl, is with us. He's the Author of "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show." He's also the Chief Washington Correspondent, for ABC News, and Co-anchor of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Appreciate you coming back.

So, in the context of what you discovered, over the course of your reporting, for your book, how does Senator Cruz's behavior fit into the larger pattern, for Republicans, and the former President?


But first, I just have to say, how remarkable that moment is, when you consider, who Ted Cruz is. Ted Cruz is a guy, who really made his name, as a national conservative leader, when he led his party, into a government shutdown, in 2013.

And when he did that, he stood up against the entirety, virtually the entirety, of the Republican leadership, in the Senate. He infuriated them. He went against their wishes, and launched them into what turned out to be a very politically-destructive government shutdown. He wasn't afraid of the wrath of all of those Republican senators.

And now, here he is, apparently afraid, of upsetting a television, a cable TV host. It's really - it's really quite remarkable.

But, it shows part of a pattern that I saw repeatedly, in the book, I document, in my book, which is Republican leaders, who would say privately, that all of what Donald Trump was saying about the election was false? They knew that the election wasn't rigged. They knew that he lost the election.

I mean, I know of one of Tucker Carlson's colleagues, in prime time, who had confided, the day after the election that Trump lost. Flatly, that he lost. But not saying this stuff publicly, afraid to cross the base.

I think what's really significant here, though, is that it wasn't crossing Donald Trump. It was crossing Tucker Carlson, and by extension, crossing, Tucker Carlson's viewers.

And Ted Cruz is somebody, who has hinted recently, in recent weeks that he's going to run for president that he would like to run for president, in 2024, the suggestion being that he would even run against Donald Trump.

But it seems that he is more afraid of crossing the people that fuel the energy behind the Trump movement. And now, Tucker Carlson may be more in touch with that energy than Trump himself.

COOPER: And also, I mean, it was interesting. Cruz, as you said, the other, a couple of weeks ago, I guess, said to somebody, about how well he came in second, in 2016, and, in the primary.

KARL: Yes.

COOPER: And usually, people come in second, they're the front runners, the next time around.

Clearly, I mean, if you look at polling, he's, you know, there's a lot of other people, ahead of him, who Republicans are looking at, Ron DeSantis. Even Mike Pence, I think, in the last poll, I saw polled higher than Ted Cruz did, as a potential candidate.

KARL: Well, yes. And also, what I think that the attraction, the reason why Trump caught on, the way he caught on?

And, by the way, he didn't fit that pattern that Cruz was talking about. Trump had never run before. So, that pattern of the Republicans picking the guy that came in second, four years earlier, hasn't really been a thing, for a long time.

But Donald Trump represented an attitude. It wasn't that he was necessarily in touch with all of the policies of the conservative Republicans. In fact, in many cases, he was like opposed to where Republicans had been, on a number of issues, trade being one prominent one.


But it was the attitude. He didn't back down against anything. It was that, "Doesn't matter what you say about me. Doesn't matter if I upset you, I'm going to charge ahead."

So, seeing Ted Cruz kind of meekly apologize, and bow before a TV host, I don't think that's really the path, towards winning the hearts and minds, of those that voted for Trump.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's also just got to be killing Ted Cruz, to be in this situation.

I mean, he's had a number of these situations. I mean, the whole incident, during the power crisis, where he, threw his family, under the bus, claiming his daughters wanted a vacation, and he was just being a good father.

He's wanted to be president, for so long. When you look at 2024, what does the field look like? I mean, is there any scenario to you that--

KARL: I think it's--

COOPER: Do you believe that - I guess, the main question is, do you believe Trump will run again?

KARL: I really do not believe he'll run again. But he's not going to let anybody know that, for a long, long time. He'll wait till the last minute.

COOPER: Fascinating! Jonathan Karl, I really appreciate it. It's such a good book. And I'm glad you're on, talking about it. Thank you.

KARL: Thank you.

COOPER: This weekend, join CNN's Fareed Zakaria, as he investigates "THE FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY." The new Special airs Sunday, 9 P.M.

Coming up next for us, we're following the latest, on the top tennis player, Novak Djokovic's visa controversy, while he's confined to an immigration hotel, in Melbourne, Australia, waiting his feet in the country.

His former coach, and former tennis star, Boris Becker, joins us next.



COOPER: There's some developments in the visa saga, involving the world's number one tennis star, Novak Djokovic. His court hearing, adjourned until Monday, as Djokovic prepares, to fight against deportation, from Australia, just ahead of the Australian Open. And protesters have now gathered, outside of a facility, for refugees and asylum seekers, in Melbourne, where Djokovic is being held, after his visa, to enter the country, was canceled.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us now with the latest.

So, what is going on, right now, on Djokovic's status?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at this moment, nine-time Australian Open champion, Novak Djokovic, has been detained, by the Australian Border Force, and taken into immigration detention, pending his deportation from Australia.

There are two other people, involved with the Open, who have also had their visas revoked. As for Djokovic, it's been a wild week, for the men's world number one tennis player.

On Tuesday, after Tennis Australia, granted the defending champion, a medical exemption, from the tournament's vaccine mandate, Djokovic posted a picture of himself, to social media, at an airport, saying that he was, quote, "Heading Down Under."

But when he arrived, on Wednesday, there was clearly a disconnect, between Tennis Australia, and the Australian Government, as he was detained, and denied entry, into the country, and had his visa revoked, by the Australian Border Force.

Now, according to Australia's Health Minister, the reason was because he failed to provide appropriate evidence, to meet entry requirements. While Djokovic has never revealed his vaccination status, he's been very outspoken, regarding his negative feelings, towards the vaccine, and vaccine mandates.

This is all playing out, as COVID-19 hospitalizations, and case numbers, across the country, broke records, this week.

Now, as a result, for the past few days, the Serbian has been held at a hotel, in Melbourne, being used as an alternative place of detention, which houses asylum seekers and refugees, as he waits, for an Australian court, to decide whether or not he's going to be allowed, to stay in the country. That decision, Anderson, as you said, is expected, on Monday.

COOPER: I mean, he's free to leave Australia, if he wanted to. Even - I guess, but he wants to wait, until Australia decides on Monday. Is that correct?

ESSIG: Yes. He could leave.

And one of the people that had their visas revoked, has since left. And the other person, who had their visa revoked, the Czech tennis player, has said that she's also going to leave, because she's not going to have enough time, to train.

So yes, he could leave. He's not being held against his will, at this point. And so far, there's no official indication, on what the judge will rule. But the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, told our affiliate, Seven Network, in an interview that in regards to Djokovic, being allowed to stay, if he were a betting person, he would not put his house on it.

Now, it is worth noting Anderson that Djokovic announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, back in June.

However, the Australian Government, told Tennis Australia, back in November, that unvaccinated players, with a recent COVID-19 infection, could not, and would not, be allowed to enter the country, based on public health guidelines. So, again, clearly a disconnect between Tennis Australia and the Australian Government.

COOPER: Blake Essig, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Joining us now, with more perspective, Djokovic's former coach, and former professional tennis player, and tennis legend, Boris Becker.

Mr. Becker, it's a pleasure to talk to you. I'm a huge fan of your work.

As his former coach, you know this man better than other people. What is your reaction to the situation he's in?

BORIS BECKER, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER, FORMER DJOKOVIC COACH: First of all, I'm a big fan of yours. And thank you very much for having me on the show.

Novak is like a family member to me. And I'm struggling. This is real unfortunate for him. He's a fine man. And he has difference of opinion with many things. But he's a very, very good character.

He wouldn't have taken the plane, if Tennis Australia wouldn't have given him the exemption. Now, Tennis Australia obviously has a misunderstanding, with the Australian Government. And that's why it's held him in detention.

But it's terrible for him. Imagine, this man eats vegan. He doesn't drink your normal water. He doesn't sleep in a normal bed. He looks at life in a different way than most other players. Hence he's so successful. So, for him to be stationed, in a room that he is in, for the last couple of days, it's just terrible.

COOPER: Rafael Nadal said, "He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences. In some way, I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the condition since a lot of months ago."


What do you think? Do you think he would leave before Monday, before getting an answer? Because, some of the other players, who haven't been allowed in, are leaving

BECKER: Well, Novak is a fighter. I think he's going to sit it out until Monday. He's going to wait for the judge's decision.

Yes, the world divides itself between, the anti-vaxxers and the vaxxers. I personally made a choice. I'm vaccinated. But I'm in my 50s.

A lot of athletes are in their 20s and 30s. And they have strong immune system, so forth. They don't think it's necessary. Novak is one of them. So, you can't debate that. But obviously, he thought, his exemption from Tennis Australia is good enough, for him, to get him into the country, and to start the tournament.

COOPER: Do you think this impacts him, I mean, just as a player, psychologically, if he was allowed to play?

BECKER: He has this attitude, "Me against the World," a little bit. And that made him always strong, always called him a Street Fighter. When the odds are against him, he plays his best tennis.

But his odds are very much against him. If the Australian Prime Minister mentioned that, if he's a betting man, and he wouldn't bet his house, on it? I personally don't like these type of comments, because you have still a human being, trying to do the best he can.


BECKER: He's just a tennis player. He's not a politician. So hopefully, he's going to win, the judgment, on Monday.

COOPER: Also, I mean, do you think it hurts him, just in terms of his career, in terms of endorsements, anything like that, in public perception?

BECKER: Well this is nothing new that Novak has a difference of opinion on many things.

COOPER: That's true.

BECKER: It just hurts him for his preparation for the Australian Open. He hasn't touched the tennis ball, in the last five days or six days. Obviously, if the judge were to find, in his favor, I mean, he would start minus zero. So, that's probably the worst preparation he's ever going to get. But obviously, he's in the news, for the wrong reasons, right now.

COOPER: So, before a big tournament, like this, he should be playing, he should be practicing, every day?

BECKER: Oh, every day. He's, four hours, five hours, he's got a very high work ethic. He goes to the gym a lot. He does everything he can to be the best possible position. But obviously, it starts with hitting tennis balls. And he's a fine-tuned machine. And if there's something off, he can't play his best tennis.

COOPER: Yes. Boris Becker, it's really - it's kind of thrilling for me to talk to you. I really appreciate you being with us. I wish you the best. BECKER: Same for me. Thank you.

COOPER: OK. Feeling dunk!

BECKER: Thank you.

COOPER: Ahead, celebrating the life of Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier. He changed movies, and our culture, forever, while staying true to himself. What an extraordinary man, and career, he was, and is!

We'll look back, next.



COOPER: Tonight, Hollywood, and the world, are remembering Sidney Poitier. The pioneer of American cinema died, last night, at the age of 94.

His career shattered racial barriers. But he refused to sacrifice his values, to achieve stardom. What audiences got, as a result, was extraordinary!

And Sara Sidner shows us his passion went far beyond the screen.



SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sidney Poitier was so much more than a film legend. He is revered, not just because of what he did on screen, but also because of his tremendous impact off-screen, as a champion of civil rights.

SIDNEY POITIER, BAHAMIAN-AMERICAN ACTOR, FILM DIRECTOR, ACTIVIST, & AMBASSADOR: We believe in the essential dignity of every human being.

SIDNER (voice-over): The son of a Bahamian tomato farmer, Poitier lived a life of first, the first Black man, to win an Oscar, for Best Actor, and one of the first Black people, to become a true Hollywood star, among the greatest, of all time.

POITIER: We have lots and lots and lots of African-American actors. Now, when we didn't have any, I appeared, not because I brought so much, because - but because the time was right.

SIDNER (voice-over): But his career almost ended before it ever began.

As a teenager, Poitier audition for the American Negro Theatre. But he was quickly thrown out, because he couldn't read. He was tone-deaf. And he had a thick Bahamian accent.

POITIER: He says that "You're no actor." We got next to the door. He opened it, pushed me out, and slammed it. SIDNER (voice-over): A determined Poitier would spend months, perfecting his acting skills, and modifying his speaking voice. His hard work would pay off in a big way.


SIDNER (voice-over): In the 1950s, he appeared in more than a dozen films, beginning with "No Way Out," and including an Oscar-nominated performance, in "The Defiant Ones."

However, it was his portrayal of a former GI, in the 1963 movie, "Lilies of the Field," that broke Hollywood's color barrier, earning him, the coveted Oscar, for Best Actor.


SIDNER (voice-over): Poitier never overcame his tone-deafness. Lip- synching the song, "Amen," in the famous "Lilies" scene, the songwriter, Jester Hairston, actually did the singing.


SIDNER (voice-over): Poitier was considered a bankable star, in 1967, starring in a landmark film, "To Sir, With Love."

MR. MARK THACKERAY, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY SIDNEY POITIER, "TO SIR, WITH LOVE": Those kids are devils incarnate, huh. I've tried everything.

SIDNER (voice-over): Playing characters that would force audiences to confront racial prejudices.


SIDNER (voice-over): But he would also challenge the Hollywood Establishment, forcing a change, in his iconic role, as Detective Virgil Tibbs, in the 1967 Academy-award-winning, "In the Heat of the Night," because of a scene that would require him, to acquiesce, to a racist character.

CHIEF BILL GILLESPIE, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY ROD STEIGER, "IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT": I'm going to take you over to Brownsville and put you on the bus myself.

TIBBS: You aren't taking me anywhere. You dig? You're holding the wrong man!

SIDNER (voice-over): That same year, he would star in the watershed film, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," alongside Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.



SIDNER (voice-over): The film not only depicted a successful interracial relationship. It also foreshadowed future progress in America.

MATT DRAYTON, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY SPENCER TRACY, "GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER": Have you given any thought to the problems your children are going to have?

DR. JOHN WADE PRENTICE, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY SIDNEY POITIER, "GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER": Yes. And they'll have some. And we'll have the children. Otherwise, I don't know what you would call it. But you couldn't call it a marriage.

DRAYTON: Is that the way Joey feels?

PRENTICE: She feels that every single one of our children will be President of the United States. And they'll all have colorful administrations.

SIDNER (voice-over): It's only fitting that in 2009, Sidney Poitier would be presented with the Medal of Freedom, by President Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Poitier once called his driving purpose, to make himself a better person. He did. And he made us all a little bit better along the way.


COOPER: And what a remarkable man, who achieved so much, not only for himself, but for so many!

The news continues. "DON LEMON TONIGHT," is next, after a short break.




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