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Novak Djokovic Admits to Error on Travel Form to Enter Australia; Hospitalizations from COVID Reach Record High in U.S.; Lawmakers Blast Boris Johnson Over Deepening Scandal. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 02:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Novak Djokovic took a break from training down under to try and explain a few things. When he learned he had COVID, the mistake he made after the positive test, and why his travel documents to Australia was not buttoned up.

And an Omicron tidal wave washing over Europe. The World Health Organization now warning that more than half of its people could catch COVID-19 in the next two months.

And the bring-your-own-booze party that's bringing all kinds of blues to Number 10 as pressure mounts for Boris Johnson to resign.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, top ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic is now admitting a mistake was made on the travel form he submitted to enter Australia. A declaration that's now at the center of his visa saga. Djokovic put out a lengthy statement on Instagram, saying he wants to address and clarify what he called misinformation about his activities last month ahead of a positive COVID-19 test result.

And one of the key lines from that statement is a mistake Djokovic claims his agent made on that travel declaration. Djokovic is hoping to compete in the Australian Open which begins next week but Australia's immigration minister is still considering whether to cancel the Serbian tennis star's visa and remove him from the country. Serbia's prime minister says she hopes for a quick resolution.


ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I hope that a final decision will be announced soon because I think that this uncertainty is not good for any of the stakeholders in this story. From Novak to the Australian Open and the entire tennis tournament. This whole saga surely does not benefit anyone.


CHURCH: Well, joining me now to help cover all the angles is "CNN WORLD SPORT's" Patrick Snell and Ben Rothenberg, senior editor for "Racket" magazine and the host of the "No Challenges Remaining" podcast.

Good to see you both. So, Patrick, let's start with you. Djokovic has tried to clarify two very important issues. He says his agent was the one who made the mistake on his travel declaration. And he also attempted to clarify the timeline surrounding his positive COVID test results. So talk to us about this. Walk us through what all he had to say?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, Rosemary. Hi there. Yes. We have learned so much from this statement. Lengthy statement from the world's top ranked men's player in the world but still so many more answers as well that it all leads to. Plenty to break down.

Let's look at the travel issue first there that you referenced. Just the context for our viewers worldwide. The 20-time grand slam champ declaring he had not traveled and would not do so, this was in the 14 days, the two-week period, leading up to his arrival on Australian soil on January 5th. That was according to a travel declaration submitted as evidence during Monday's court hearing this past Monday.

But then we had the various pictures online that were taken allegedly during the two-week period apparently showed the 34-year-old in both Spain and his homeland Serbia. Why is that significant? Well, it is and let's hear now what the Serbian superstar had to say in response. This is what it was from the statement.

"On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf, as I told immigration officials on my arrival and my agents sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in a challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur."

OK, so that. That's sort of part one, if you like. Let's try and get now to this COVID-19 positive test in December just gone. The timeline all around as well. Djokovic admitting in that statement that he didn't immediately isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 last month but denying at the time knowing he had the virus when attending public events, saying he attended a basketball game in Belgrade. That was on December the 14th where many people tested positive afterwards. He showed no symptoms but got tested on December 16th.


Now, a day later before he received the official result of his test he took a rapid test, that one came out negative. He attended a Youth Tennis Award ceremony and it was only after that that he received the official positive results. That according to his statement today, Rosemary. CHURCH: And Patrick, Djokovic also explains sort of a media interview

and photoshoot that he did on December 18th after he tested positive which he admits was an error in judgment. So why did he go ahead with interview?

SNELL: Yes. That is the question, isn't it? You know, that is the question that surely he's going to have to elaborate more on because I'm certain he's going to be asked about it. That date, December 18th, highly significant indeed. That's when he says that his tennis center in Belgrade, he did conduct an interview and a photoshoot. This was France's L'Equipe saying he cancelled all other events except for that one.

Why? Because he says he didn't want to let the journalist down. Djokovic saying he was socially distanced and did wear a mask except for when his photo was being taken. But in his statement, this is what he has to say, in part, "While I went home after the interview to self-isolate for the required period, on reflection this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should've rescheduled this commitment."

So Djokovic shedding light on that but as I've said, Rosemary, there's going to be a ton more questions arising from it all.

CHURCH: Yes, most definitely. So let's get some analysis on all of this. We turn to Ben in Melbourne, and Australia's immigration minister, Ben, is still considering what to do next as he goes through now this new information. So how likely is it that the minister will accept these clarification on two important issues that could determine of course if Djokovic gets thrown out of the country?

BEN ROTHENBERG, TENNIS EXPERT: I don't think either of these admissions necessarily help Djokovic at all. I don't think that the minister will necessarily care that it was someone else who was filling out the form for him. Djokovic is the person presenting this form to border officials who will be responsible for the voracity of its content. So I don't think he'll get a lot of understanding or leeway there.

And on the second one, you know, I think that Djokovic is not going to gain any sort of, you know, credibility or reputational points for admitting that he didn't tell an interviewer from this French newspaper L'Equipe. He did not inform the journalist that he was COVID positive for this indoor interview with them, and also the photographer for the photoshoot. That's going to be a level of sort of irresponsibility during the pandemic on a public health level that will not score him many points.

Even if Djokovic did try to clarify that he hadn't known that he was positive he says, when he attended an event earlier after his test came back, when he didn't hear about it, with a whole group of children. So maybe he didn't know that he was infecting a whole group of children potentially, but he also didn't tell the journalist either before or after the interview. There doesn't seem to be any sort of notion that Djokovic was alerting close contacts that he'd been positive and he had been around a whole lot of people during this time stretch.

CHURCH: Yes, this seems to be an incredible disregard for other people's health and wellness here. So, Ben, what has been the overall reaction in Australia to Djokovic's clarifications and how much has support for the world's top tennis player changed since his arrival in the country when there was a lot of pushback, a lot of Australians wanted to see him thrown out?

ROTHENBERG: Yes, the national sentiment definitely was a lot of frustration and resentment when he announced he was coming with an exemption, and that really baseline feeling has not changed. And I think the admission here from Djokovic that he did knowingly have COVID, according to himself, and yet still entertained a meeting with a journalist, do an interview that was basically for an award, L'Equipe was giving him an award for Sports Person of the Year, Champion of Champions, they called it, for the year 2021.

That Djokovic wanting to sort of indulge and getting this award handed to him in the interview that went with it but didn't want to disclose the health status that he had and the possible contagiousness he had to this person sitting across the table from him in this interview, really will reflect very badly on him. Thankfully the interviewer has said he tested positive for now, but still that sort of disregard for other people's health during the pandemic is not going to play well in Australia or probably anywhere else for that matter.

CHURCH: Yes, it will certainly be interesting to see what the immigration minister in Australia decides and how quickly that decision is made.

Patrick Snell, joining us live from Atlanta, and Ben Rothenberg live in Melbourne, thank you to you both.

Well, right now to some alarming news from the World Health Organization. Global COVID-19 cases were up 55 percent in the first week of 2022, compared to the week before. And new data shows Europe saw more than seven million new cases in the first week of January. On Tuesday, France and Italy recorded their highest daily case counts since the pandemic began with nearly 370,000 new cases in France and more than 220,000 cases in Italy.


The WHO's Europe chief says the Omicron variant is sweeping across the region from west the east like a tidal wave and is deeply concerned that when the Omicron surges into Eastern Europe, there will be severe disease in the unvaccinated. He's warning that more than half of Europe could catch the virus in the next two months. Just take a listen.


DR. HANS KLUGE, WHO REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, China is battling to contain the Omicron variant ahead of the Beijing Winter Games. The city of Tianjin near Beijing began a second round of mass testing Wednesday after reports of about three dozen new COVID cases. The government has placed several areas with community spread under strict lockdown. Most trains to Beijing are banned and travel to the city is being strictly controlled.

Well, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that the Omicron variant will find just about everyone eventually and many people will be infected. U.S. hospital admissions from COVID have hit a new record high, nearly 146,000. And the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no one is being spared.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTION: Hospitalization rates for people infected with Omicron are lower compared with prior variants. Despite a potential decrease in severity the substantial number of absolute cases is resulting in hospitalization increases across all age groups including children aged zero to 4.


CHURCH: And Dr. Fauci hit back at misinformation from two Republican senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday, calling Kansas Republican Roger Marshall a moron. And he accused Kentucky's Rand Paul of attacking him for political gain and profit.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): So your desire to take down people --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You're absolutely incorrect as usual, Senator. You are incorrect, almost everything you say.

PAUL: Well, no, you deny, you deny, but the e-mails tell the truth of this.

FAUCI: No. So, I ask myself, why would senator want to do this? So, go to Rand Paul's Web site, and you see "Fire Dr. Fauci" with a little box that says, contribute here. You can do $5, $10, $20, $100, so you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.


CHURCH: Quebec, Canada is getting fed up with the unvaccinated and warning that if they choose to remain a risk to society, they are going to pay literally. The province announced Tuesday that unless unvaccinated people have a medical exemption, they will be hit with a significant fine in the coming weeks because they are putting a huge burden on the public healthcare system. Listen.


FRANCOIS LEGAULT, QUEBEC PREMIER: It's a question also of fairness for the 90 percent of the population who made some sacrifices. I think we owe them this kind of measure.


CHURCH: The government says that nearly 90 percent of eligible Quebecers have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. And last week that Quebec announced that only the vaccinated are allowed to buy alcohol and cannabis. The health minister says vaccine appointments spiked as a result of that requirement.

So joining me now from Hawaii, Dr. Scott Miscovich, president and CEO of Premier Medical Group USA and a national consultant for COVID-19 testing.

Thank you, Doctor, for all that you do and for talking with us.


CHURCH: So we are seeing various parts of the world try different ways to convince the unvaccinated to get their shots. Quebec, we just heard, imposing a fine on the unvaccinated. Europe using a COVID pass to shut them out of public places. And some companies refusing to pay for time off to isolate if employees won't get their shots.

Now is this what we need to see? Incentives to vaccinate, rather than the very unpopular mandates?

MISCOVICH: Well, there are studies that are being done to try and evaluate what was working. I mean, let's throw out the other thing that we saw. Lotteries and people having a chance to, you know, be millionaires. Well, those didn't work. The data was very clear. Now, like for example in the United States, I think what they are saying in Quebec that think about.


If you're a smoker, you have to pay a higher health care premium. Why? Because your risk is higher. I don't think any of us would challenge the fact that if you're going to be unvaccinated that you should have to pay a higher health care premium. And where you have public health like they do in Canada, I would concur with that. It's just fair that we all should not be paying the bills for these amazing health care cost that happen with these people.

And the other thing we've seen is across Europe, for example, when in France they said you couldn't go into a cafe, the numbers soared in a couple of days. So I think we're down to those things being the next step.

CHURCH: How likely is it, though, that certainly health insurance companies here in the U.S.. It's a very complicated system. It's very decentralized. Could that work if there is insurance companies saying, well, if you're not vaccinated, we're only going to pay a very small portion of your hospital costs?

MISCOVICH: Yes. Once again most of this is still going to have to come from a push from the federal government. And as we see right now, the federal government, every single decision they make lands in court. And then that gets strung out. So that's what we're seeing right now. Most of this is being handled through the judicial system. And is it going to work? I think it could work ultimately because there is a strong basis in history to talk about higher risk.

And, you know, we all know, like if you tried to buy insurance for life insurance, if you have risks, you pay more. Those things will possibly transmit over to those things. So I do think it will help. But nothing's going to help overnight.

CHURCH: No, exactly right. And we've seen that, haven't we, now in 2022? So the World Health Organization, Doctor, is projecting that more than half of Europe's population will get COVID in the next two months specifically the Omicron variant and top medical experts here in the United States, including Dr. Anthony Fauci say most people will end up getting infected. So, what will be the likely consequences of mass infection like that?

MISCOVICH: That's still up in the air. There's a lot of concern for most of us where we're just having people almost now starting to transition and say, whoa, I might as well catch it. Like the olden days of chicken pox. Let's let everybody catch it. The problem that I really have is we now know very well that there is long haul COVID. And that was affecting 40 percent of everybody. You know, Delta and the prior variants.

What if we are causing, still, even this 20 percent of the individual gets long-term symptoms? Look at what we're experiencing right now across the United States and the world. No one's available to work. Everybody is sick. Everybody is wiped out. What if they get further disabled for months and months? What will that mean to the world of the recovery and the health care system?

The second issue, for example, one of the things that doesn't get enough publication is a study we have come out, it was almost a 14- month evaluation, is there's 100 percent and 50 percent increase in diabetes in children under the age of 18 who have contracted COVID compared to a normal age group. This is a systematic disease. We don't know the long-term consequences. So to just rush in and say, oh, it's OK to get infected. That's such an unknown that we really do need to be careful.

CHURCH: Yes, there truly is. I mean, a lot of people who have had three shots do think that they're bulletproof if they get infected. But as you say, you just don't know the consequences of this. And Doctor, when you look at the data, and the new study showing reduced risk of hospitalization with the Omicron variant, and certainly if you have those three shots, what do you make of that? And when might we see a light at the end of the tunnel here? Too premature?

MISCOVICH: Too premature for the light. I mean I think most of us really do know that we are going to see somewhere, we're going to see a peak. It's going to be somewhere, you know, a little later than sometime in February. It's probably could be leveling off in a couple of areas in Europe sooner than that. And then it will come down fairly sharply. The question is, how far down will it come?

Now, of course the next step is what about the next variant? We are just starting to see this brew in the southern hemisphere. And as we are listening in your prior peace, Eastern Europe is a hotbed for this. India is a hotbed. So we all know variants will form. There will be more variants. Now the other issue is that there is so much explanation that the idea that this is mild has driven us all crazy. If you have not been vaccinated and you are naive and never had COVID, then you are just as in much risk to die than anyone with any other variant.


So we have to be careful. There is so many stratifications that we need to look at people and say, get your shots, get boosted, and you won't die. You will likely not end up in hospitals and ICUs.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, we have to just labor that message. If you have access to these shots, take that opportunity. Save your lives. Save those that you love around you. Can't say it enough.

Doctor Scott Miscovich, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

MISCOVICH: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, time for a short break now. But just ahead, a new poll has Boris Johnson going from bad to worse. The latest fallout from his party-gate scandal. We'll explain.


CHURCH: A new poll finds two-thirds of British adults think Boris Johnson should resign. The prime minister is under fire once again over parties at Downing Street while the rest of the country was under lockdown. The latest allegations surfaced in a leaked e-mail from a top official inviting stuff to a garden party in May of 2020. Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer says it's time for Mr. Johnson to stop lying to the British public. Another lawmaker broke down in tears talking about the apparent double standard.


JIM SHANNON, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY MP: In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to COVID just last week. 3,000 people who followed the rules and grieved today. So (INAUDIBLE) including my mother-in-law who died alone.


SHANNON: (INAUDIBLE) confirm that there will be (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.


CHURCH: Heartbreaking moment there. And Boris Johnson says he won't comment on whether he attended the 2020 garden party while an investigation is underway.

Well, joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Dominic, a new poll shows most Brits want Boris Johnson to resign over his Downing Street party while the rest of the U.K. was in lockdown. So how bad could this be for the prime minister? Do you think he can survive the onslaught of this?

THOMAS: Well, I think the answer is unequivocally that his level of vulnerability has reached new heights. And the interesting thing about the situation is that within the Conservative Party, the level of sort of gratefulness to Boris Johnson for not only delivering Brexit but a massive majority for his party cannot be underestimated. And with this majority they are able to legislate, they are able to drive an agenda and so on.


And as much as they are concerned about the sort of dwindling poll numbers, the fact remains that he essentially serves at the pleasure of the Conservative Party. Any leadership change could be their decision. And I think it's unclear that there is actually anybody in the Conservative Party right now who would actually really want his position or be able, arguably, to take the party along the kind of road with the success that Boris Johnson has had. And I think it's that kind of dilemma that's playing out right now.

CHURCH: And Dominic, as we mentioned, an investigation is currently underway into what now is being called Boris's party-gate scandal. How extensive does this need to be? And how extensive will it likely be?

THOMAS: Well, I think no matter what the investigation does and no matter what they had, whatever they conclude, the fact is that this is playing out in the public square that the government not only has as far as the British people are concerned, you know, essentially mishandle the response to the COVID pandemic. The U.K. has over 150,000 people that have passed away. More than any of the E.U. 27 neighbors.

People made tremendous sacrifices in response to government rules and regulations, which have continued to embroil the government in a whole set of scandals. And as much as Boris Johnson may hold the confidence of the Conservative Party leadership, the big question is, as this continues, as he refuses to speak out in public and to admit to his knowledge of these parties and presence of these parties, and it is unlikely that he will continue to maintain the confidence of the British people, and that then, of course, will play out politically for him. CHURCH: And of course, he clearly has some enemies. Doesn't he? What

is going on with all these leaked e-mails and videos of Boris Johnson and his advisers ignoring their own lockdown advice. And presumably, who keeps seeing and hearing all of these leaks going forward?

THOMAS: Well, yes, absolutely. I think that within the Conservative Party, as we saw during the Theresa May era there are different factions. And yes, the party came together around Brexit, and yes, they were able to secure a substantial majority. But as a party that's gone through a succession of leadership challenges and leadership elections, I think that the MPs are concerned about their constituents.

They're concerned about important local elections coming up in May of this year. And even though the next general election is not until, at least isn't schedule, until May of 2024, I think that there is increasing concern with the ways in which Boris Johnson is damaging the party. And I think that when there is smoke, there's fire. And the conversations are being had about whether or not Boris Johnson will be able to stay on.

And I think it's very unlikely that this particular prime minister will still be in place by the time we get of course to the elections in 2024. The big question is, whether or not along the way, a leadership change is going to come about sooner rather than later.

CHURCH: Interesting. And of course we saw that lawmaker breakdown in parliaments while pointing out the apparent double standard while everyone was locking down, everyone is partying at 10 Downing Street. So many people have been impacted by this. They've lost friends and family members, and yet the prime minister appears unaffected. What's the backstory to his apparent disconnect?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I think you're absolutely right. There is such a disconnect. The word that keeps coming to mind for me is really a kind of a sense of entitlement. You have a sense here that this Cabinet, this very elite Cabinet, is completely detached from the reality of the way in which this has played out for so many people that they represent. The professional impact, the personal impact, the terrible family tragedies and stories that have shaped this particular pandemic, and throughout this government has essentially through its actions not only provided inconsistent messaging, but ultimately undermined the effort to recover from this pandemic through the example that it's setting.

And COVID fatigue is there. The frustration is there. And I think that there's just a broader political frustration with the way and the direction in which the country is going. And with the opposition, with the hope that greater coordination across the line will take place, and that some transition will occur.


And -- but the level of frustration is elevated. And Boris Johnson is going to have to address this sooner rather than later if he has any attempt, any opportunity to survive and without doing further damage to the conservative party.

CHURCH: Yes. We'll continue to watch -- so far he's avoiding all of this. Dominic Thomas joining us there, many thanks. Appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, talks between Russia and NATO are set to begin in Belgium after Moscow announced new military drills near Ukraine. We're live in Brussels for the very latest. That's coming up.

And North Korea is no stranger to missile tests, having carried out two within a week, but this one set off an unusual response in part of the U.S. We'll explain.


With Russian troops mass near Ukraine has critical talks between NATO and Moscow are set to get underway over the next few hours in Brussels. The U.S. and its allies are looking to prevent a war as Russia launches military drills and amounts Ukraine can never join NATO.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukraine's Foreign Minister ahead of today's talks. The State Department says that Kremlin will face enormous economic cost if it chooses conflict. For its part, Kiev says the two countries are united in deterring Russia and the U.S. won't make a decision on Ukraine behind its back.

For the latest, international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live in Brussels. He joins us now. Good to see you, Nic. So, no progress was made in talks between Russia and the U.S. Can we expect this meeting between Russia and NATO to be any different?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it's going to be different in as much as a different Russian negotiator, the Former Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko, Deputy of Foreign Minister. But what we heard from Sergei Ryabkov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, who negotiated with the U.S. in Geneva was that Russia's concerns about NATO's what they see as expansion hadn't been addressed and that he wasn't willing to talk about other issues that were important to the United States, the possibility of arms control reductions and troop training reductions and controls.

So, you know, arriving here for these talks today with NATO, the Russian delegation, I think, from everything we've heard until now is essentially going to run into an even larger brick wall. A brick wall of 30 nations who are unified in that position. They've said this many times. Secretary general of NATO has made this point many times that there is a unified position that everyone stands together.


Recognizing the sovereignty of Ukraine and sending that message to Russia that it needs to de-escalate it's -- the tensions right now. That it needs to send those troops who are training next to the border and creating the tensions that they should go back to their bases. Otherwise there will be these huge economic sanctions or the possibility of Russia invades Ukraine of NATO moving even more troops and military deployments to the Eastern borders of Europe which is something President Putin wants to avoid.

So, can the outcome at the end of today be different? I think the expectation would be where we stand right now, is that Russia will come out of these talks having had a different negotiator with a different set of skills and experiences. But hearing the same message that Russia heard on Wednesday. They said, you know, that the negotiator there was said that he was relatively hopeful and it was worth continuing to try. And that's been the messaging that we've heard from the Kremlin in the last couple of days.

But the reality is that Russia is not going to get what it wants out of NATO. It's not going to get a clear declaration that Ukraine can't join NATO. It's not going to get a declaration that NATO is going to roll back to some sort of pre-1997 NATO level of involvement of nations in Europe. So, yes, a brick wall here today, I think, is what Russians will find.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to watch what comes out of Brussels. Nic Robertson joining us live from the Belgian Capital. Appreciate it.

Well, for the second time this year, North Korea is claiming to have successfully test fired a hypersonic missile. And state media reports that Leader Kim Jong-Un himself attended latest launch. The U.S. State Department is condemning the missile test which prompted a brief ground stop at some American airports apparently out of an abundance of caution. CNN's Oren Liebermann picks up the story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Newly- released images show North Korea's latest missile launch. The ballistic missile flew more than 400 miles, according to Japan's Ministry of Defense, and crashed into the Sea of Japan. The missile went nearly 40 miles high and reached Mach 10. According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. This test coming one week after North Korea tested this, what it claimed was a hypersonic weapon. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un, it seems, is reminding the West of his relevance.

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: North Korea is to make a decision, do they go full provocation or do they wait a bit more. I think -- I really do believe they wanted to give President Biden an opportunity to engage North Korea or North Korea talks but Washington has not done that.

LIEBERMANN (voiceover): In early December, the U.S. and South Korea announced they would update their operational war plan. A classified strategy for how the countries and their allies would respond if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. In the months before the announcement, there were four separate North Korean missile tests. Including cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The State Department says they condemn the latest tests, two in the span of one week. VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The United States has been saying, since this administration came in that we are open to dialogue with North Korea. That we are open to talking about COVID and humanitarian support. And instead they're firing off missiles.

LIEBERMANN (voiceover): U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory and yet this from Burbank Airport in California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some sort of national security threat's going on, and we are not allowing aircraft to maneuver in the area at the moment.

LIEBERMANN (voiceover): The White House says the FAA temporarily paused departures at some West Coast airports because of the missile test. But it's still unclear why a launch, thousands of miles away, had any effect on flights in the U.S. when the military was able to quickly assess the launch was no threat to the United States.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a 15-minute ground stop and they did it out of an abundance of caution. And they were going to be assessing their approach moving forward.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): The FAA statement about the ground stop made no mention of North Korea or the missile launch. That part came from the White House and other officials. The FAA says they often take precautionary measures and that part is no doubt true. But those measures aren't normally in response to a missile launch, thousands of miles away. The FAA says they are reviewing the processes and decision making around the ground stop. Oren Liebermann, CNN at the Pentagon.

CHURCH: Testing the waters at the world expo in the Dubai.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEWS ANCHOR: They call it surreal, and it really is.


CHURCH: There he is. Our Richard Quest shows us the monumental water feature. When we come back.



Fire, water, and earth, the elements come together and somehow defy gravity in a massive feature at this year's Expo in Dubai. CNN's Richard Quest went to check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUEST: They call it surreal, and it really is. It's the idea of fire, water, all coming together. There is a simplicity and joy to this. That's not really describable because at the end of the day, it's water being chucked down a hill. With music, written by the same guy that wrote the theme for "Game of Thrones." A little bit -- the grand finale. Oh, there's more.


CHURCH: He's having a fun time there. Join Quest Means Business live from the Dubai Expo 2020 every night this week only here on CNN.

And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next. I'll be back at the top of the hour.