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Family of Syrian Man Tortured & Killed by Russian Wagner Mercenaries Speaks to CNN; Legal Effort to Hold Russian Wagner Mercenaries Accountable for Alleged Torture and Murder; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Afghan Palace Attack; Fmr. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan & Iraq Talks to CNN; Taliban Gains Ground in Afghanistan; Many Women in Afghanistan Say They Feel Betrayed and Unsafe; Former Ambassador: The Iraq War is Far From Finished; Indonesia Extends COVID Restrictions as Cases Surge; Study: India COVID Deaths 10 Times Higher Than Official Count; Australia Expands Lockdowns to Another State; Pfizer-Biontech to Start Producing Vaccine in South Africa; The Devastating Reality of Global Vaccine Inequalities; Athletes Forced to Drop Out of Olympics Over COVID Tests; CNN Speaks to Paralympian Olivia Breen; Games Go Ahead in Empty Stadiums as new COVID Cases Pop Up; Paralympian Told Her Sprint Briefs Were "Inappropriate"; COVID Taking Much of the Fun Out f the Games; Athletes Debunk "Anti-Sex" Bed Rumors; Restrictions Making it Harder for Athletes to Have Sex; Expert: Olympic Athletes Need "Release"; Olympic Dream "Snatched" From Ugandan Runner; Uganda's Former Star Athlete Speaks Out; Johnson in Quarantine and Under Fire; Census Begins for Royal Swans in England. Aired 11a-12p ET.
Aired July 21, 2021 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World." We start this hour with a CNN exclusive. Russian mercenaries have been
accused of grave human right abuses and in some cases experts say could amount to war crimes. Well, CNN has reported extensively on the alleged
atrocities committed in Africa and we bring you now another report.
This time, from Syria, where the horrific torture and murder of a Syrian man in 2017 allegedly at the hands of Russian mercenaries is now a
landmark, the first-ever legal effort to hold Russian Wanger mercenaries accountable for these crimes.
The victim's brother spoke exclusively to CNN about the tragedy that devastated his family and his dangerous quest for justice. I have to warn
you, the images you are about to see you may find disturbing. My colleague, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A series of videos emerged, beginning in 2017, revealing one of the most disturbing incidents
of the war in Syria. An unarmed man taunted and tortured by four Russian- speaking men in military fatigues.
They pin him down. And with a sledgehammer, they repeatedly strike his feet and his hands. His screams of agony, drowned out by the sound of
nationalist Russian military music and their laughter.
KARADSHEH: Later that year, and in 2017, more video clips of the incidents surfaced online, they're too graphic to show, too gruesome to even detail.
The men take turns dismembering and beheading their victim whose last words appear to be reciting the shahadda, a declaration of a Muslim's faith
typically spoken as a death writ.
KARADSHEH (voice over): Their perverse pleasure evident throughout this ordeal that played out in their makeshift Syrian Desert torture chamber.
One of the men was identified in the 2019 investigation published by the independent Russian paper, Novaya Gazeta, as an alleged member of Wagner,
the shadowing Russian private military entity with links to the Kremlin that's operated in Syrian alongside Russian forces.
The victim was identified as a Mohamad A., Syrian army deserter. In 2019, Moscow said the reports quote have nothing to do with Russian military
operations in Syria. And requests by Novaya Gazeta to the country's main investigative body to launch a probe were dismissed.
Four years after that grisly killing, rights groups from Russia, France and Syria have filed legal action in Moscow in an attempt to trigger an
investigation into the incident. It is the first time anyone has ever tried to hold any member of Wagner accountable for what rights groups say is a
growing list of alleged atrocities committed by the mercenaries with an expanding global footprint that allows Russia to advance an off the books
The case was filed on behalf of the victim's brother, who broke his family's silence in an exclusive CNN interview. For the safety of family
still inside Syria, Abdullah asked us to conceal his identity.
UNKNOWN (through translator): I want the world to hear about my brother's case, so these criminals are held accountable. My brother is gone. He will
never come back.
KARADSHEH: Abdullah says Mohamad never took part in the war to support his young family; he worked as a construction laborer in Lebanon. The last time
Abdullah heard from him, Mohamad said he had been detained by the regime on the way back to Syria and forced to join the military but he planned to
UNKNOWN (through translator): He said I'm going to leave, but I don't know if I'll be able to get back to you. Take care of my children and my wife.
It was as if he knew something was going to happen to him.
KARADSHEH (voice over): The family lost contact with Mohamad for months, until this.
UNKNOWN (through translator): A man from our hometown sent me a video clip. He said watch this video. It could be your brother. Of course, I
recognized my brother from his clothes, his voice, his appearance. He was being tortured by soldiers.
KARADSHEH (on screen): At first Abdullah only got the torture video and for months the family held on to the hope that Mohamad may be still alive.
His father travelled to Damascus, he searched hospitals and jails force his son and Muhammad's death was only confirmed when the rest of the horrific
videos appeared online.
KARADSHEH (voice over): Relaxed, smoking cigarettes, they posed for photos before setting his fire on body.
UNKNWON (through translator): When I watched the video, I stayed in a room, and I didn't leave the room for three days. I didn't send the video
to my parents. And my other brother developed a kind of psychological illness from the video. We have a very heavy burden. I want to try to
describe it now, but I can't. I can't express what's going on inside me.
KARADSHEH: Abdullah has never heard of Wagner, he just wants his brother's executioners punished.
UNKNOWN (through translator): If the criminals who tortured him are arrested, the least they deserve is jail. We will not be like them. We will
not demand what happened to my brother happens to them. I just want them to be held accountable. Even if this costs me my life.
KARADSHEH: In a war where well-documented atrocities have gone unpunished, Abdullah's cross (ph) for justice will not be easy. How does anyone get
justice from a faceless shadowy (ph) Russian outfit unaccountable to anyone, one that officially doesn't even exist? Jomana Karadsheh, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, CNN has reached out to Russia's investigative committee for comment. We have not received a response to our request. Wagner has
been unreachable for a number of CNN reports, in recent years, including this one. There is a lot more at CNN.com on this story.
We might think it is starting to feel and look like we have been here before. Especially in a region, the likes of which sees new violence
erupting in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: (Foreign Language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: ISIS claiming responsibility for three rockets that landed near the presidential palace in the afghan capital of Kabul. No one was hurt.
President Ashraf Ghani and other high ranking officials were gathered outside in prayer when Tuesday's attack happened.
Concerns are mounting for the safety of the afghan people, as U.S. and NATO troops leave the country. ISIS also claiming responsibility for Monday's
deadly bombing at a crowded market in the Iraqi capital. Iraq's prime minister and president are condemning the attack that killed dozens of
Well, police say the market, like many other places, public places, have been packed with shoppers preparing to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid.
Well, my next quest has spent decades as a diplomat in Middle East and Asia. Ryan Crocker, who's the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq,
Pakistan and to Syria and he joins me now live.
There have been concerns about the fact that ISIS is a force in Afghanistan, my colleague CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic
Robertson and others have done work on that and Nic penned an op-ed recently describing Afghanistan as standing on the edge of an abyss. Sir,
how would you describe it?
RYAN CROCKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, PAKISTAN & SYRIA: I think Nic's analysis is just right, Becky. I would push it one
step further. I think we now have one foot over that abyss. This is not going to be pretty.
ANDERSON: The withdrawal of troops will be complete, symbolically of course, by September 11th, 2021; that would be 20 years after the twin
tower bombings blamed on, Al-Qaeda and who were being harbored in Afghanistan, by the Taliban, and that was the reason for the invasion back
in early 2002.
I've spoken to women in Afghanistan, one former politician saying women feel utterly betrayed by the withdrawal and now they're telling me if women
are not safe, then no one is safe, and they should be the barometer by which the entire intervention should be judged. Washington's critics argue
that intervention is an utter failure. Is it?
CROCKER: Absolutely not. Look, when I was ambassador to Afghanistan; 2011, 2012, we had about 100,000 troops on the ground. The Taliban held no
provincial capitals and no district capitals.
We drew that force down to about 3,500 prior to President Biden's announcement of the complete withdrawal.
With 3,500 troops, prepared to stay the course, the Taliban held no provincial capitals, no district capitals. So what we have done really here
is snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Pre-emptively capitulated.
Everyone knows it. And everyone is starting to make their moves right now. Not just the Taliban. Not just the Islamic state. Not just Al- Qaeda. We
are seeing the reforming of militias within Afghanistan.
ANDERSON: So what happens next?
CROCKER: Well, I think the country has already begun its own civil war. We are seeing the Taliban, for example, take over border checkpoints. Most
visibly at the Chaman crossing in Pakistan. The government is gone. The Taliban is there. We've seen the rocketing of presidential compound. We
have seen again in the north, Tajik militias reforming. The next civil war has already begun.
ANDERSON: Ambassador Crocker, if the justification back in 2001 was an invasion and, to ensure U.S. national security, going forward. How does
what you have just described not beg a similar issue going forward?
Is ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban; are these not a threat to national security for the U.S.? Is there not a justification for that, and therefore a
justification for staying? Nobody wants an endless war, of course, and both the Biden administration and the Trump administration and indeed the Barack
Obama administration didn't want these endless wars in the region, so what happens?
CROCKER: Well, fasten your seatbelt. We're going to find out what happens. And that's again what makes this, I think, such an avoidable tragedy, if
you will. I was there close to the beginning in Afghanistan. And I reopened the embassy (ph) there in Kabul at the beginning of 2002. We had no doubt
why we were there, and you've just said it very well, it was to ensure that Afghan soil is never again used for attacks on the American homeland.
That hasn't changed. Two decades later, that's still the imperative. That's still the rationale. It certainly was when I was ambassador. You can have
an argument over means, how far do you go in, first like education of women and girls, I would say there parenthetically, we have an empowered female
community in Afghanistan, that quite rightly feel that we've betrayed them.
Our message to them was get an education, get a job, join the military, join the government, run for parliament, and we've got your back, and they
did all of those things, transformational over time, to a very primitive society. But transformation takes time, and we have just stopped the clock.
So those women whose backs we had, not so much now. And they are right to feel betrayed.
ANDERSON: You have argued that by withdrawing from Iraq, President Barack Obama left the battle space, as you describe it, to America's adversaries.
And I want to talk about Iraq in a moment. Who aside from the Taliban, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda, is likely to fill the vacuum in Afghanistan, sir?
CROCKER: Well, that is exactly what they're seeking to do and they're seeking to do it right now. We've left the battle space. We certainly
didn't win the war. We just handed the advantage to our adversaries. The whole negotiating process, from start to finish was really about
We were not talking about a settlement. We were saying, basically, to the Taliban, look, we're going to try and dress this up, as best we can, don't
shoot at us on the way out, and what you do is up to you. And that's what they've been waiting for, for the last two decades, and I got to tell you,
they have not become kinder and gentler, after two decades in the wilderness. Neither has Al-Qaeda.
The Taliban gave up the country. Rather than give up Al-Qaeda. So they're back. Al-Qaeda's back. And we are looking 20 years later, at the situation,
the deployment of forces on the ground that created 9/11.
ANDERSON: Iraq, I do want to close with that, and it's interesting to listen to your analysis, what do you make of the latest claim by ISIS of
the responsibility for the deadly blast in Baghdad, on the eve of Eid, and -- and how significant do you think that move could or might be?
CROCKER: And clearly, we have seen empty spaces filled in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan, by adversaries of the governments of those countries,
adversaries and enemies of our own. It is a reminder, of course, that the Iraq war is far from finished.
It was not finished when President Obama withdrew the last of our troops in 2011. It just had entered a new phase. And now, we're seeing that movie
replay again. You remember what happened, Becky, when Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor twice removed of Islamic state in Iraq today, when they blew up
the golden mosque in Samarra, it triggered a vicious phase of the civil war, and really, that's what we have just seen Islamic state now try to do
So this is a multiple extreme restraint on the part of all Iraqis, government, non-government, not to let this happen again. Not to stoke a
new phase of a horrific Sunni versus Shia civil war. We've seen that movie. We should not see it again.
ANDERSON: Many in Iraq will say they wish they didn't see it in the first time and they blame the states for involvement. Thank you, sir.
Coming up, Indonesia is Asia's new epicenter in the coronavirus pandemic. The number of deaths there is climbing as the health care system sits on
the brink of collapse. We'll do more on that in a moment. Plus Pfizer and BioNTech, promising to get 100 million doses of their vaccine to African
countries. We're going tell you how they plan to make that happen.
ANDERSON: Well, global -- global -- let me start that again. Global COVID case numbers could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks. That's the
view of the World Health Organization. I'm afraid to say the situation in much of Asia couldn't be more worrying.
The Delta variant is fueling an explosion of COVID cases across Southeast Asia and we are keeping a close eye on Indonesia as a steady wave rips
through that country. It is extending COVID restrictions until Sunday, closing religious centers and schools.
The Indian government denying it hid the extent of its COVID death toll. A new study suggests the virus killed as many as 5 million Indians compared
to the roughly 400,000 officially reported. And anger grows in Australia, as another state enters lockdown. And awful lot going on. Anna Coren is
following all of this for you from Hong Kong.
Let's talk about Indonesia. Let's start there. And particularly concerning is the high rate of infection amongst children there. And we've done a
number of interviews on this show about that. What is being done to try and contain things, Anna?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Becky, they've -- they've certainly put in restrictions and -- and curfews to try and stop the spread of the
delta variant. That is really ripping through Indonesia like wildfire.
Last week, they recorded a record daily number of cases, around 56,000. Today, it was 33,000. But they recorded a record daily death toll of almost
1,400. And that has been going up and up and up. You mentioned aid has obviously been under way, and Indonesia being predominantly Muslim country,
people have been getting together and celebrating despite these restrictions, authorities are anticipating a further spike in numbers in
the coming weeks.
And NGO, Becky, is accusing the Indonesian government of vastly underreporting the deaths and the government says that is not our fault
that is the fault of local governments that have not given us accurate information. But certainly, Indonesia has now become the epicenter for the
Asian pandemic. And it has overtaken India. I should also note, Becky, that only 6 percent of the population in Indonesia has been fully vaccinated.
ANDERSON: You talk about the numbers being underreported. A similar story that you and I discussed at length during the chronic wave in India, a
couple of months ago, it does now seem that experts who have been saying the COVID death toll in India is being underreported, are now correct. What
do we know about a study giving us some significantly bigger case numbers, Anna?
COREN: It's extraordinary. We always knew it was underreported. We just didn't know by how much. But The Center for Global Development, which is a
U.S.-based organization, believes that the real death toll could be ten times higher, you know, up to 4.9 million people, 5 million people may have
died in the pandemic.
I mean that is, you know, a staggering number, when you think of the government's official death toll of 418,000 people. The center is saying
it's certainly not in the hundreds of thousands. It is definitely in the millions. And let me read you this. It said making it India's worst human
tragedy since partition and independence.
And to top it off, Becky, the government came out today, saying that there were no COVID deaths as a result of lack of oxygen. Absolute outrage in the
community at these comments because as we known and as we reported on, during the height of this pandemic, people were running out of oxygen.
There was a critical shortage of oxygen and people were dying as a result.
ANDERSON: Anna Coren on the story for us. Anna, thank you.
Well, for months on this show, we have reporting on the unfair, unequal vaccine access in many parts of the world not least in Africa. Well now,
Pfizer-BioNTech is stepping up the vaccine availability across the continent. The company has announced plans to manufacture its coronavirus
vaccine in South Africa. That is in a partnership with a local pharma company, Biovac.
Once fully operational, the company said vaccine production would exceed 100 million doses a year, all to be distributed exclusively within African
countries. David McKenzie joining me now with the very latest from Johannesburg. Just how significant is this announcement, David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it is very significant. It's kind of a middle ground between what some countries like South Africa and
India want, which is getting a wave of intellectual property on these vaccine recipes, and no sharing what-so-ever.
And this is the route that these big pharmaceutical companies appear to be going. They'll be sending the raw material, Becky, from Europe to a
facility in Cape Town, produced by Biovac, that South African firm, crucially all of these vaccines will only be sent to African nations, which
is seeing a huge impact on vaccine inequality.
Less than 2 percent of people are vaccinated fully on the African continent. As this continent, many parts of it, are dealing with a very
dramatic surge of COVID-19. The bad news, it will take several months to get this up and running, but by next year, certainly, those vaccines will
be coming off the shelf.
ANDERSON: Yes, and you make a very good point, because the time scale here is crucial, isn't it in Africa, South Africa particularly, dealing with the
uptick in cases as a result of the surge in this Delta variant, as we are seeing in many other parts of the world.
We've just been reporting on Asia, of course, as well. And the vaccine rollout has been incredibly slow, in Africa, cases and deaths rising.
This announcement clearly has some significance, as you likely point out. Does it go far enough, though, at this point, and what else needs to
happen, to ensure that what we are seeing currently on the ground doesn't cause enormous death, going forward?
MCKENZIE: Well, I think what needs to happen, according to public health officials, and the WHO, is that rich countries need to donate their excess
doses that they already have in hand, that they don't necessarily need for their population.
Several rich countries have far more vaccines than they need to certainly vaccinate their vulnerable populations. There is a caveat to all of this
good news, Becky, which is of course that mRNA vaccine technology requires ultra cold storage, and many countries on the continent might not have the
capacity to store these vaccines and distribute them effectively.
So, you know, by no means are we out of this pandemic, and not just in the African continent, other countries with poorer infrastructure are going to
struggle just to get vaccines out to people even when they arrive. So this is a very long haul, and people need to prepare for that. Becky?
ANDERSON: Yes, supply and distribution is something that you and I have been talking about at length, over not just weeks now, it's been months,
hasn't it? And these are really crucial issues that we must continue to flag. Thank you, David.
Well, those doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine clearly can't come soon enough. If you head to cnn.com you can read CNN correspondent Larry
Madowo's piece on how vaccine inequality has changed his life. He explains how his uncle died of COVID-19 before he could get a vaccine in Kenya but
he got his own doses easily by just walking into a U.S. drugstore. It's a very personal piece and well worth a read.
Well, ahead on the show the list of athletes dropping out of the Olympic Games grows long but we'll tell you who has been forced to drop out over
positive COVID test results, after they got to Japan. Also ahead at the Paralympic games kick off August 24th, one paralympian is forced to answer
for the length of her sprinting briefs. The hurtful comment that has Olivia Breen speaking out. We speak to Olivia after this.
ANDERSON: With the opening ceremony in Tokyo just two days away, at least four athletes have now pulled out of the Olympic Games after they had
already touched down in Japan, and then tested positive for COVID-19.
On the list so far, U.S. beach volleyball player, a Czech table tennis player, a Dutch skateboarder, a Chilean taekwondo athlete and several
others pulled out after testing positive before they actually arrived in Japan.
Meantime, women's softball and football matches got under way earlier with absolutely no fans in the stadiums. Olympic organizers though are painting
the games as a moment of joy and relief. But they are still not ruling out the possibility of canceling at the last minute.
Selina Wang joins us now from Tokyo. Let's start with that. I want to talk about the athletes who sadly had to drop out before the games had even
begun. But what is this talk about the potential for still not completing these games, should these numbers both locally and amongst athletes
increase? What's the story there?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it was in a press conference the other day, where the head of the Tokyo organizing committee was asked
pointblank, is there still a chance these games could be canceled at the very last minute?
He didn't rule out the possibility, Becky, but he chose his words incredibly carefully, he said we're monitoring the COVID-19 situation, we
cannot predict how it is going to develop, and if the situation does worsen, then they'll hold a meeting with more of the organizers to discuss
Now that being said, competition has already kicked off. You had soccer matches here in Tokyo. Softball in Fukushima. They did take place in these
empty stands without any fans. Silence. Really quite striking images of this. But Becky, again, they're saying there's always that possibility.
ANDERSON: Organizers arguing that the COVID protocols are working, that because there is such a rigorous testing system in place, that those and
sadly those who have testified positive will now not be able to live out their Olympic dreams but at least there is some security for others. Does
that, how does that go down locally?
WANG: Well, I can tell you a lot of public health experts don't agree with that. As you say, the official stance is that you now have more than 70
COVID-19 cases linked to the Olympics, Olympic organizers say they were expecting this, it shows all of the layers of testing and contract tracing
at various points, they are testified every day, these athletes showing it is in fact working.
But public health experts, including one that I just spoke to yesterday, he's saying that this idea you can keep this bubble of Olympians separate
for the Japanese public here just isn't realistic and that its already broken and he's worried about the Japanese population, in which 20 percent
of the people here are fully vaccinated, potentially experiencing an even greater surge of COVID-19 cases because of the influx of more than 80,000
Olympic participants for this gigantic event.
And Becky, he also makes the point that vaccines are not mandatory, nor are they 100 percent effective and the participants do not have to quarantine
for a full 14 days.
ANDERSON: With that we'll leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Well, my next guest is a two-time Paralympic world champion. She competes mainly in the T-38 sprint and F-38 long jump events. In a tweet on Sunday,
she spoke out about a comment made by an official at the English championship. She says the women told her that her sprint briefs were quote
too short and were inappropriate. Olivia Breen joining me now.
And first, thank you for taking the time out to speak with us in the final weeks before the Paralympic games kick off August 24th. How is the training
going before we talk about this official's remarks? How are you getting on?
OLIVIA BREEN, PARALYMPICS WORLD CHAMPION: Hello, thank you for having me. Training is going really well. (INAUDIBLE) It has been a weird 18 months
with COVID and stuff but I'm a really good place now hopefully (ph) going to Tokyo.
ANDERSON: Good. All right, well keep up the good work. We look forward to seeing you compete. Let's talk about this official's remark. Explain what
happened. And why you felt these were -- this remark was so hurtful, particularly coming from another woman. Tell us, explain exactly what's
BREEN: So basically, I just finished my last competition for selection before Tokyo and I was really happy, just having a chat with my teammate,
packing my bag. About to put on my (INAUDIBLE) and this official came up to me and said can I talk to you, and I was like yes, sure, what's up.
And she said, can I just say that your briefs are too revealing, and you should consider buying a new pair of shorts. And I just looked at her and I
just said to her, are you joking? And she said no, I think you should consider buying a pair of shorts.
And it just left me so shocked. And I looked at my teammate and she just looked at me and we just had our mouths wide open because we didn't -- we
were just so shocked at what just happened.
ANDERSON: Have you ever heard anything of the like before? Have you spoken to other people? Has anybody ever suggested they had a similar remark or
response from an official?
BREEN: Yes, I've heard a lot. It's happened to a lot of girls and a lot of athletes and they said to me, thank you so much for speaking out, we really
appreciate it. And hadn't actually realized (INAUDIBLE) has actually happened to.
So obviously I've been an athlete for nine years and I've never experienced anything like this before and I'm really glad I've spoken out, and I'm
hoping to raise awareness and it won't happen like this again.
ANDERSON: Well, let's hope not. Look, I mean briefs aside, you know, as an athlete, you are under an awful lot of pressure, at present, and you just
don't need comments like that, clearly, it is absolutely unacceptable. And just explain, you know, what's going on for you at present, in the buildup
at this point, because it's been a terrifically difficult 18 months, as you rightly point out.
BREEN: And for me, COVID has actually really helped. Obviously it's been - - it's been a mess with COVID but for me personally, it gave me an extra year to work on my weaknesses and, you know, really focus on things I need
to work on for my training. And it's really paid off.
You know I'm having a great season, I'm really happy and I'm in a really good place, and obviously being a part of this "Can Do" campaign
(INAUDIBLE) and just trying to raise awareness (INAUDIBLE) disability, and trying (INAUDIBLE) trying to make people realize, you know, being treated
Like if you look different, whether you're disabled, you know, if you come from a different background. Just trying to bring everyone together. And be
treated equally and support each other.
ANDERSON: Briefly, how do you feel, I mean we know that the Olympics are being -- are being conducted with no spectators in the stadiums. How does
it, if that were to be the case for the Paralympics, how do you feel about that?
BREEN: I think, you know, I'm just very grateful it's happening, but obviously it's very sad not having my family and friends out to watch me,
they always come out and watch me. But you know, I'm just happy it's happening. And thank God for FaceTime, thank God for Zoom and we'll
celebrate together back home.
ANDERSON: You do that. The very best of luck to you. And your other teammates who I know you will be cheering on. However you can. And whatever
happens at these -- at these games. Thank you, the very best of luck.
Well, some are calling Tokyo the no fun Olympics, with the usual fanfare and festivities surrounding the games nowhere to be found in Tokyo, with
COVID clearly putting a damper on the excitement. Athletes are left with few ways to de-stress. CNN's Blake Essig with this report.
UNKNOWN: Welcome to day one in Tokyo. It was such a perfect day today.
BLACK ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With just a few days to go, before the games begin, the Olympic village is start tock come alive.
UNKNOWN: Very quiet. Not that many athletes. But lots of food choices, which always really good.
ESSIG: A transformation captured on video, by a member of the Australian swim team.
UNKNOWN: Also that little car is driving by itself. Like no one's -- there's no wheel with it. So that's kind of cool.
ESSIG: Under normal circumstances, the Olympics create a festival-like atmosphere. But COVID fears at these games have created a unique situation;
97 percent of events taking place will be held without spectators. And for all events, the sale of alcohol has been banned, and fans are not allowed
Back in the Olympic village, organizers say athletes can only consume alcohol alone in their room, and must avoid hugs, handshakes, high fives,
and apparently sex.
RHYS MCCLENAGHAN, IRISH GYMNAST: In today's episode of fake news at the Olympic Games, the beds are meant to be anti-sex.
ESSIG: Recently some media reports and athlete tweets came out saying that the beds made of recycled materials, were anti-sex, and would collapse
under the weight of more than one person, or celebrations. A claim that Olympic organizers say isn't true and one that was elegantly disproven by
the Irish gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan.
MCCLENAGHAN: Apparently they're meant to break in any sudden movements. It's fake, fake news.
ESSIG: Over the past several decades the Olympic village has developed a bit of a reputation, that reputation involves hundreds of thousands of
condoms and a lot of people using them.
MAKI HIRAYAMA, SOCIOLOGIST, MEIJI UNIVERSITY: Only the top athletes of the Olympics had an extreme concentration for long years, and we cannot live
only with concentration, and we need release.
ESSIG: That release for athletes, according to Maki Hirayama, a sociologist who studies sexuality, often happens in the form of sexual
HIRAYAMA: After the competition, they need a big relaxation and I believe to have sex is the biggest relaxation.
ESSIG: While Olympic organizers didn't include any specifics about sex in the play book outlining COVID counter measures, they are in a way making it
more difficult. Condoms are typically distributed to athletes when they arrive at the Olympic village.
This time around, roughly 150,000 condoms will still be distributed but only at checkout. A number that Kunihiko Okamoto, vice president of Okamoto
Industries who supplied some of the condoms being distributed at the games says was reduced because of COVID.
KUNIHIKO OKAMOTO, VICE PRESIDENT, OKAMOTO INDUSTRIES (through translator): Before the pandemic, we thought the Olympics would be a great opportunity
to showcase our products. It's important to raise awareness around STDs. But during the pandemic, and given the situation, we feel there are more
important things in the world than talking about the importance of condoms.
ESSIG: But whether condoms are readily available to athletes, Hirayama believes sex in the village is going to happen more than ever before. She
says despite the restrictions put in place, after dealing with the pandemic, a delayed Olympics, and a lifetime of training and restrictions,
the big release for athletes is inevitable. Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.
ANDERSON: Well, a Ugandan runner was at the panicle of her sport and hoping for Olympic glory, but irreversible surgery took all of that away
from her. Well now, she is speaking out. In part one in what is our "Running as Equals Series". That coming up after this.
ANDERSON: Who's allowed to compete in elite sports as a woman? Well women with DSD or differences of sex development are con fronting the issue
firsthand. Amongst them is Uganda's former star athlete Annet Negesa.
For nine years she's been trying to recover from irreversible surgery that she says ruined her life and drove her out of competing. We're in part one
of our "Running as Equals Series." She talks to my colleague, Christina Macfarlane.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): She is the forgotten woman of sport, who nine years ago was on the brink of fulfilling an
Olympic dream. In 2012, Annet Negesa was preparing to compete for Uganda at the London Olympics when she was abruptly pulled from the competition by
the sport's governing body World Athletics.
Negesa had been judged to be different. Not female enough to compete in women's events. And so began an ordeal that would rob her of her health,
homeland and her career.
ANNET NEGESA, FOMER ELITE ATHLETE: I'm from Uganda. And when I reached (INAUDIBLE) my international manager came up, that he had to go with me to
First, they did blood samples and they -- they took me to MRI and they did body measurement. Like the shoulders, the chest.
MACFARLANE: Negesa had been identified as an athlete of different sex development and had elevated testosterone levels. To run again, she was
told she must reduce them.
MACFARLANE (on screen): How did it feel to learn that you were different? Your body was different from what you thought?
NEGESA: I was shy to talk about it and I had no one to talk about it, or to tell about really what I feel.
MACFARLANE (voiceover): Desperate to compete again, Negesa chose to go to this hospital in her native Uganda where she was told by doctors her excess
testosterone would be drawn out with a needle but that's not what happened.
NEGESA: The following day, morning, I woke up, finding myself having cuts under my belly and really I was asking myself what happened to me? What
they did to me? And I had no one to ask because I was in shock.
MACFARLANE: The doctors had removed the testies she had inside her. Negesa says she grew weak and never competed at an elite level again.
NEGESA: I had a terrible headache; I had a problem of depression. I felt my life was over and I reached a time whereby I wanted to commit suicide
because I'm seeing everything, I'm tired of everything on earth.
MACFARLANE: Yet, she would lose even more. In 2019, she spoke for the first time about her plight to the media, but going public made it worse in
Uganda where having a DSD or being LBGTQI could lead to persecution or death. Soon afterward she was forced to flee her homeland and seek asylum
in Germany, where she now lives alone trying to rebuild but still not regretting speaking out.
NEGESA: The more I talk about it, the more I become strong. For many others are going through and some of them are losing their lives, because
they're lacking people to talk to. So me, I decided to come out, talking about it, so that other athletes know straight away the consequences and
the side effects of what they're telling them to do.
MACFARLANE: Negesa blames World Athletics for what happened to me.
NEGESA: They violated my rights as a human being. They treated me like a guinea pig.
MACFARLANE: She also has questions about her after-care based on this medical report from the hospital in Kampala. It states Negesa's surgeon was
awaiting further discussions with the doctor at World Athletics before starting her hormone therapy. The hospital would not verify the document to
CNN citing patient confidentiality.
Negesa says she never received the long-term hormone treatment she needed in Uganda.
MACFARLANE (on screen): What do you want to say to World Athletics?
NEGESA: One thing I can tell them stop tampering with athlete's bodies.
MACFARLANE (voiceover): World Athletics deny any involvement in what happened to Negesa and say they did not recommend surgery. In a statement
they told CNN that treatment must be prescribed by a physician who is independent from the IAAF.
And the IAAF is in no way involved in the process. We repeatedly asked both hospitals for response, as well as Negesa's manager and the Uganda
Athletics Federation for comment, but they gave us none. Today, alone but surviving, Negesa is trying to regain her health and the chance to do the
only thing she has ever wanted. To run.
NEGESA: I'm very happy that I'm back in this part. I pray to God that I continue to make progress every day I'm there. So that I fulfill my dream.
MACFARLANE (on-screen): What is your dream now?
NEGESA: My dream was going to happen one time in the Olympics, whereby it was snatched from me in 2012. I don't want to miss it again. When the body
is done and ready for competitions that's what I pray for.
MACFARLANE (voiceover): Christina Macfarlane, CNN, Berlin.
ANDERSON: And tomorrow, we'll hear from World Athletics about rules and the impact on women with differences of sex development or DSD. That is
here on CNN. Do stay with us for that.
Well, coming up, a British politician accuses Boris Johnson the prime minister, of being a super spreader, not of COVID, but of COVID confusion.
The tough questions being asked about Britain's isolation policies. In just a moment.
And while the 800-year-old tradition of counting the queen's swans is still going strong. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, may not have be physically present but he's still facing tough questions in parliament, or
from parliament, at least, Johnson used a video hookup to participate in what is known here as question time, when in COVID isolation, he is
isolating after a member of his cabinet tested positive for COVID, over the weekend.
That minister actually being the health secretary. And Johnson's strategy for stopping COVID drew some heavy fire during the prime minister's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I have to say, even after 15 months of these exchanges, I can't believe that the prime minister doesn't
see the irony of him spending Freedom Day, locked in isolation and -- and announcing plans for a vaccine I.D. card. I remember what he used to say he
would eat an I.D. card if he ever had to produce one.
And now he is introducing them. So Mr. Speaker, when it comes to creating confusion, the prime minister is a super spreader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Nina dos Santos is outside the Houses of Parliament in what is an absolutely spectacular day in London. What does the prime minister have
to say about the criticism of these COVID policies, Nina?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well obviously, the strategy from the government thus far, Becky, is being that they continue to believe that
with so many people vaccinated in this country that has broken, if you like, the chain of events that leads to severe illness and the NHS, the
health care system getting overwhelmed by a large number of COVID cases.
Having said that though, when it comes to deaths, the number of deaths from COVID-19 this week actually reached levels last seen back in March and we
are at those levels of 45,000-plus infections on a daily rate that the government themselves, two weeks ago, warned would probably be the
So Boris Johnson saying that essentially, one of the things that is crucial now, is that people actually isolate, as he is doing, if they are -- test -
- near anybody who has tested positive.
Now this itself turns out to be rather ironic, because as we know the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, there was pointing out that it's
one thing if you have a country retreat, a grace in favor (ph) country retreat at your disposal, as Boris Johnson does, you can self isolate and
splendor, but the reality is quite different for many millions of people across the U.K.
But here's the twist. A few hours after Keir Starmer made that speech and questioned him from the dispatch box here in parliament, he himself had to
go into self isolation, because one of his own children was told that they had COVID-19. Becky?
ANDERSON: Yes, I flew into the U.K. and from Abu Dhabi, via a trip to Italy recently, I had to do the at least five day isolation here, it was an
odd one, as I sat and watched the Euro 2020 Final, with 65,000 people, at Wembley, none of whom were wearing masks and I was stuck at home isolating.
It's -- it's very odd. And clearly, there are issues, and clearly people have concerns and worries about these isolation rules. What sort of
hardship if any is it calling (ph)? What's the impact on businesses, for example?
DOS SANTOS: It is causing really big issues here in the U.K. just even on an anecdotal basis here in London, you hear people in the hospitality
sector bemoaning they can't get the staff because people are isolating.
People in critical industries like refuse (ph) collection, also in the health system as well constantly being pinged by this NHS app saying that
you've been in contact with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 and you have to isolate.
And that is causing a large disruption to the work force of this country. The latest figures, Becky, are as of the first week of July about, a half a
million people were in isolation, not necessarily because they at that time had COVID but they had been told by the NHS test and trace app that they
had been in contact with somebody who has had COVID.
This is a disruption to employers and Boris Johnson apologized to the business community for this disruption earlier on during that prime
minister's question time session. But it doesn't appear as though they have a hugely clear path forward. He says that as of August the 16th, they're
going to be moving to a different type of test and trace system, but that is a couple of weeks away from here, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Nina, thank you.
Well, as long as you can clearly see bask (ph) in what can be described as a mini heat wave, Windsor locals might have caught a site of a very ancient
tradition on the riverside. Royal officials cladding these scarlet outfits have taken to the times for what is known as the annual swan upping
It is a yearly ritual of counting the swans owned by Britain's monarch. The ceremony, which has been around for 800 years, sees teams measure and weigh
any signets they find, to checking for injuries along the way. It is quite the sight.
And in Nigeria, one ram has become somewhat of a local celebrity due to a very rare feature. The creature has five horns. It's been capturing the
attention of shoppers ahead of the Eid al-Adha celebrations.
Muslims around the world slaughter rams to commemorate the prophet Abraham's willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael on God's command. So it's
understandable this fellow, well, it's caused quite the stir.
Stay safe, stay well, wherever you are watching in the world. Up next, "One World," today with Eleni Giokos coming to you from Dubai.