welcome to bbc news — i'm rich preston. our top stories... the final countdown to the start of the delayed tokyo olympics. anticipation rises — but so do the covid cases and controversies. the opening ceremony is just hours away. i'm sarah mulkerrins live in tokyo where organisers are hoping the sporting action will boost the mood of the nation. elsewhere: china deals with the devastating aftermath of catastrophic flooding. thousands are evacuated from henan province — at least 33 people are confirmed dead. and we'll be live in the bahamas where slovenian diver alenka artnik has set a new world record for free—diving more than 120 metres.
a very warm welcome to bbc news to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe we are just hours away from the opening ceremony for the much—troubled tokyo 2020 olympics. they were postponed last year because of the pandemic, but now the wait is almost over for more than 11,300 athletes trying to get their hands on an olympic medal. but despite being postponed, the games are not clear of covid. there's already been more than 90 confirmed coronavirus cases in tokyo directly linked to the games. that's after a sixth member of the czech olympic team tested positive in the last few hours. beyond the athletes village, daily covid infections in tokyo are now higher than at any time since january. and with no fans allowed in the stadiums, there are still calls for the games to be cancelled, despite a cost of $12.6 billion dollars.
celebrations at the opening ceremony will be the most subdued of any olympics in history. but our tokyo correspondent rupert wingfield—hayes has still managed to track down some excited fans. finding olympic fans in tokyo these days isn't so easy. but on this roof top at least, it's a different story. skateboarding is in the olympics for the first time, in the hope of attracting young new fans, and it seems to be working. translation: it would be cool to watch great - skateboarders at the olympics. translation: | love _ snowboarding, so skateboarding is good practice for me, and it's fun! at one time, everyone here was an olympic fan. on the day tokyo won the bid back in 2013, people were delirious with joy. tokyo! today, the atmosphere couldn't be more different.
the stadium where the opening ceremony will happen is surrounded by high fences — spectators kept far away. first, there was the enormous cost of the main stadium, then there were problems with the olympic logo, then there were allegations of corruption, and then covid hit. the whole games had to be moved by a year. this year, japan's olympic chief had to step down over a sexism 1’0w. then the composer of music for the opening ceremony was forced out because of bullying allegations. finally, one day before the games were due to open, the director of the whole opening ceremony has been fired because it turns out he made jokes about the holocaust. it's no wonder some people here think these games are cursed. newsreel: the world's biggest city, more than | 10 million population and still growing, tokyo prepares... it was all so different the last time tokyo held the games back in 1964. author robert whiting had arrived injapan two years earlier. it's too bad, one of the really nice things about the '64
olympics was for two weeks — two and a half weeks — the city was just filled with tourists and athletes mingling with each other. the nice thing about the olympics is that they are a global festival. it really was this festival atmosphere. it was quite nice, and you know, now it's like the city's like a ghost town. not quite a ghost town. tokyo is supposed to be under a state of emergency, but you wouldn't know it in the famous nightlife district. like many others, the owner of this restaurant is now refusing to close early or stop serving alcohol. he says he lost a quarter of a million dollars during the last shutdown. translation: i am struggling. i have friends who have had to close their restaurants. i was short of cash and had problems paying bills. that's why i decided to be open. the government is not helping us, so i have to protect my own living.
there are certainly those who are looking forward to tonight's opening ceremony. many of them are already lining up to take photos close to the main stadium, but overall, the mood in tokyo is more weary acceptance than eager anticipation. rupert wingfield hayes, bbc news, tokyo. let's go live now to our sports presenter, sarah mulkerirns who's in tokyo. so the opening ceremony not far away now and the action will soon be coming thick and fast, who are some of the names we should be looking out for? once we get the opening ceremony over and done with we will be talking about all those big names that are competing for the next couple of weeks. the japanese hosts will be looking out for naomi osaka, the four—time grand slam winner in the tennis, she will be wanting to bring a metal bar,
novak djokovic going for a golden slam, if you look at mount howe some of the more traditional olympic sports, shelly ann fraser, from jamaica, brilliant sprinter, aged 3a, going to be going for her third olympic gold in the 100 metres, that would be some achievement. in the pool we love watching the swimming at the olympics. watch out for the american pair of kayleigh becky and kaleb dresser, they will be dominant, but looking at people all around the world, one name, you would be looking out for at the olympics, i imagine most people would say simone biles, the nominal gymnast, she has brought us so much joy when we watch her with her big smiles and amazing leaps and bounds and amazing leaps and bounds and tricks that she does, and we can speak to her former
coach. luis brasesco. he owns bannon�*s gym in houston, texas, where simone first started training as a six—year—old. could you tell she was destined for the sort of level?— for the sort of level? hello, it's hard _ for the sort of level? hello, it's hard to _ for the sort of level? hello, it's hard to tell— for the sort of level? hello, it's hard to tell now! - for the sort of level? hello, it's hard to tell now! she i for the sort of level? hello, | it's hard to tell now! she was definitely, she had some star power— definitely, she had some star power and she was amazing. to think_ power and she was amazing. to think she — power and she was amazing. to think she would be here, going for another olympics, think she would be here, going foranother olympics, i think she would be here, going for another olympics, i could not say— for another olympics, i could not say i _ for another olympics, i could not say i was thinking about that— not say i was thinking about that at— not say i was thinking about that at that point.— not say i was thinking about that at that point. what made her stand out _ that at that point. what made her stand out from _ that at that point. what made her stand out from the - that at that point. what made her stand out from the rest? l her stand out from the rest? tremendous amount of energy. she was— tremendous amount of energy. she was so fun at the gym, wilting _ she was so fun at the gym, willing to _ she was so fun at the gym, willing to tryjust about everything. she has some fears about— everything. she has some fears about her— everything. she has some fears about her fears, they cannot compare _ about her fears, they cannot compare to yours or mine. she was _
compare to yours or mine. she wasjust— compare to yours or mine. she wasjust happy and compare to yours or mine. she was just happy and wanted to try any— was just happy and wanted to try any skills and everything was — try any skills and everything was fun, _ try any skills and everything was fun, nothing was different or difficult for her. i think that— or difficult for her. i think that it _ or difficult for her. i think that itjust propelled her to greater— that itjust propelled her to greater things. also, everybody will watch, at all times. since she was— will watch, at all times. since she was a _ will watch, at all times. since she was a little girl. and also the ability, when the light goes _ the ability, when the light goes on, she is on and nothing gets. _ goes on, she is on and nothing gets, everything goes away from her, gets, everything goes away from her. she — gets, everything goes away from her. she is— gets, everything goes away from her, she isjust amazing. before _ her, she isjust amazing. before we let you go, what do you think she can achieve here in tokyo?— you think she can achieve here in tokyo? definitely, she could aet all in tokyo? definitely, she could get all the _ in tokyo? definitely, she could get all the medals _ in tokyo? definitely, she could get all the medals that - in tokyo? definitely, she could get all the medals that she - get all the medals that she wants— get all the medals that she wants to, if she does well, the front— wants to, if she does well, the front vault, the balance beam,
the ﬂoor. _ front vault, the balance beam, the floor, she will get a medal, _ the floor, she will get a medal, and a team medal, all around, — medal, and a team medal, all around, of— medal, and a team medal, all around, of course. the type of medal? — around, of course. the type of medal? most of them gold! but also, _ medal? most of them gold! but also, what she can achieve, even — also, what she can achieve, even more _ also, what she can achieve, even more fame and more power so she _ even more fame and more power so she could really change the sport — so she could really change the sort. ., , ., ., sport. lovely to have you with this on the — sport. lovely to have you with this on the programme. - sport. lovely to have you with | this on the programme. thank you. former coach of the simone biles. undoubtedly one of the stars of these olympic games here in tokyo. today is friday, friday morning here in tokyo, the opening ceremony will get under way at 8pm at local time, really scaled back from the usual razzmatazz that we see at an opening ceremony. much more subdued and sombre affair in keeping with the pandemic in which these games are happening. which these games are happening-— which these games are happening. looks like an absolutely _ happening. looks like an absolutely beautiful - happening. looks like an - absolutely beautiful morning in tokyo. thank you for now and we will speak to you again
shortly. tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the central chinese region of henan as officials confirmed that at least 33 people have died. that includes a dozen commuters in the provincial capital zhengzhou who were caught on the city's underground as carriages filled with water. the city had a year's worth of rain in three days — and more is forecast. our correspondent, robin brant, is there, and sent this report. the rain has stopped for now, but some of the roads are still like rivers — evidence of how overwhelming the incessant rainfall was. above ground, they are starting to clear up though. but the true horror of this intersection is what happened underground at this metro station. as the rain came down at its heaviest, passengers stood in train carriages, trapped for hours as the tunnels flooded. at least 12 people died down there. the company in charge has blamed the unprecedented downpour.
the government in beijing has ordered a national review of preparedness. the ill—fated metro system is shut down. police stood guard over one entrance when we were there. they didn't like us filming. after my id was checked, i asked one officer if this was a crime scene. elsewhere, others lost their livelihoods. this woman told us how her baking business was wiped out in minutes. translation: everything was washed away. - nothing was left. ijust dug my clothes out. the water was up to my chest. we ran for our lives without taking anything. her bed tonight is the floor. one of the 1.2 million people the government here said was affected by these floods. out of the city, north, the rain was still coming down and the rescuers
were still rescuing. we've just come from a place where they are tidying up and trying to get back to normal but 30 kilometres north, here, it's still a recovery operation. rescue workers there in fluorescent life jackets. and if ijust swivel you around to the right, well, this is a road that's turned into a river, a lake, call it what you like. 100 metres down there, the water is at knee level. even further it's at chest level. so the rain has stopped for now but this is still a crisis. from above, the huge scale of what happened here becomes clearer. the electricity supply and mobile phone coverage is not fully restored, but the worst of the rain seems to have passed for now — which leaves time for other things. fishing. . . in an underpass? robin brant, bbc news, zhengzhou in eastern china. china has rejected a plan by the world health organization for a second phase of an investigation into the origins of covid 19. a senior chinese health official said the proposal
to consider whether the virus could have escaped from a chinese lab, did not respect science and disregarded common sense. the white house press secretary, jen psaki, was asked about this in the last few hours and gave this response. we are deeply disappointed. their position is irresponsible and, frankly, dangerous. alongside other member states around the world, we continue to call for china to provide the needed access to data and samples. our north america correspondent david willis has the latest. china hasn't really been helping itself in this regard, some might argue. officials from the world health organization were only able to get access to the wuhan area in january of this year, more than a year after the first cases of the virus came to light and now, beijing has flatly rejected a request from the who for its investigators to be allowed to inspect the laboratories, the research institutes, in wuhan.
stay with us on bbc news, still to come: we'll be coming back — live — to tokyo with our very own mariko oi. i'm outside the olympic stadium where people are queueing up to take a picture with the olympic rings so i can sense a bit of excitment despite all the controversy. coming down the ladder now. that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. a catastrophic engine fire is being blamed tonight for the first crash in the 30 year history of concorde, the world's only supersonic airliner. it was one of the most vivid symbols of the violence and hatred that tore apart the state of yugoslavia. but now a decade later, it has been painstakingly
rebuilt and opens again today. there's been a 50% decrease in| sperm quantity, and an increase in malfunctioning sperm unable to swim property. _ thousands of households across the country are suspiciously quiet this lunchtime as children bury their noses in the final instalment of harry potter. this is bbc news, our main headline this hour: the final countdown to tokyo's delayed olympics. anticipation rises — but so do the covid cases and controversies. the opening ceremony is just hours away. let's stay with this story — one person who is following very closely how the games have changed tokyo is our very own mariko oi, because — this is her home city!
what is the atmosphere like? i don't know if you can see behind me but a lot of people waiting for their turn to take pictures with the olympic rings and there's a long queue here which was already here when we got here 6am so despite all the controversy and even people being ratherfed up with controversy and even people being rather fed up with all these scandals i think it's fair to say some people are getting excited that the games are finally under way and i have felt that exact excitement eight years ago when my hometown won the right to host these games so i put together this report about these conflicting emotions that i have had. take a look. i'm at shibuya crossing in tokyo, arguably my favourite place in the world. it's great to be back injapan, reporting on the olympics in my hometown of tokyo. this is a once—in—a—lifetime opportunity. but it's far from the olympic dreams that many of us had when tokyo won the right
to host the 2020 summer games. but the pandemic has changed all of this. and now, once again, japan is facing a test of resilience and unity. it was supposed to mark the country's recovery from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. similar to when the city hosted the games in 1964, that was a powerful symbol ofa newjapan, rising from the ashes of world war ii. my parents were in high school back then, they both remember the games vividly. mum's dad, my late grandfather, got tickets to see the event. i wish i could have asked him what it was like. now, nearly six decades later, the games are back. it's a very different tokyo today from when my grandfather was here. without overseas visitors
and spectators, it will be a subdued games, that is for sure. and while there is unease about having the games here now, in our hearts, my hometown will be rooting for the athletes and the olympic spirit. we keep comparing this event with the 1964 summer games that tokyo also hosted but one big difference is that when the opening ceremony takes place inside that stadium behind me, there will be two flag—bearers, one male and one female athletes, for the gender balance, but a basketball player, his father is from venice, i think 60 years ago it would have been unimaginable for a biracial athlete to be representing japan so we are slowly but gradually, seeing the various changes that japan is going through.—
the various changes that japan is going through. thank you so much. now to a sport which takes incredible athletic ability, endurance and training — but is not in the olympics — it's free diving. the vertical blue freediving competition has been taking place at dean's blue hole in the bahamas over the last week, and some impressive records have been broken including a new constant weight women's world record — slovenian diver alenka artnik, set a new world record, reaching a depth of 122 metres — that's 400 feet in 3 minutes and 34 seconds. well, i am very pleased to say, we are joined live now from long island in the bahamas, by the new world record holder, alenka atnik. thank you so much for being with us and congratulations. how does it feel?— with us and congratulations. how does it feel? amazing, you know, honestly! _ how does it feel? amazing, you know, honestly! i— how does it feel? amazing, you know, honestly! ithink- how does it feel? amazing, you know, honestly! i think i - how does it feel? amazing, you know, honestly! ithinki am- know, honestly! i think i am going to need a few more days to process what has just happened, you know. the last week, ten days, have been
really, really intense, i am looking forward to going home and lying in my bed and processing what happened. just tell us, processing what happened. just tell us. 122 _ processing what happened. just tell us, 122 readers down, scuba divers often do not go that deep, what is it like down there, you have to wear a head torch? .. , , there, you have to wear a head torch? , , ., ., , torch? exactly, this area is very specific _ torch? exactly, this area is very specific about - torch? exactly, this area is very specific about for - torch? exactly, this area is very specific about for this| very specific about for this reason, actually, below say 80 or 90 metres it is pitch black so you don't see anything. we need a little torch on our head for the orientation so we are capable of seeing the rope in front of us. usually we are free diving in the open sea and even though we are diving way below 100 metres, we can only see something so here, we see nothing, so this is very specific for this place. but on the other hand, it gives us, i think, i don't know, it may be, it's easier to relax because
it's easier to relax because it's so dark and basically, you close your eyes and at some point, you start thinking, like a stone and this sensation is just really magical. taste a stone and this sensation is just really magical. we must stress, just really magical. we must stress. you _ just really magical. we must stress, you are _ just really magical. we must stress, you are a _ just really magical. we must l stress, you are a professional, and you practice for this, this is not something people should try at home but how do you train for something like this? yes, free diving is a very complex, very specific sports basically, we need to train our signals, all the athletes, we need to spend a lot of hours in the gym, or strength, need to spend a lot of hours in the gym, orstrength, it's need to spend a lot of hours in the gym, or strength, it's very important. we need to train a lot in the pool to master the thin technique and then we have to do a lot of specific breath holding training because we need to develop our oxygen tolerance, for this reason, we do everything while holding our breath and there is, i would say, a really specific training for free diving, the
say, a really specific training forfree diving, the mental aspect, which i think is actually important in all sports but in free diving, it's even more so we have to spend a lot of time on the mental aspect. and obviously, as there is this big pressure down there, the pressure is really huge, we need to be very flexible, we need to do a lot of exercise for the rib cage flexibility as well.- flexibility as well. really uuite flexibility as well. really quite an _ flexibility as well. really quite an incredible - flexibility as well. really quite an incredible feat i flexibility as well. really l quite an incredible feat so thank you forjoining us and congratulations again on your record. artist and activist ai weiwei has unveiled an iron tree in his latest exhibition, as a warning about environmental destruction. the 32—metre exhibit was moulded from a 1,200—year—old endangered caryocar genus tree he found in a brazilian forest. ai weiwei says "destroying the environment, destroys human society". a man who was stalked and attacked by a grizzly bear
in the us state of alaska for an entire week is recovering from his injuries after being rescued by the coast guard. he was alone in a remote mining camp when the bear first attacked, dragging him down to a river. he escaped but then had to fend off the animal as it returned to his shack every night. an sos sign was spotted during a routine helicopter flight last week. the man is suffering from a leg injury and bruised torso. let's get some of the day's other news the united states has imposed sanctions on a senior cuban official and a security force which answers to the cuban ministry of the interior, over their response to anti—government protests earlier this month. the us state department says the repression of the demonstrations was a human rights violation — and has warned that more action could be taken.
several popular websites around the world have been affected by an outage of service. the issue has been fixed and was not caused by a cyber attack. among the sites affected were air b&b, ups parcel delivery, british airways and the playstation network used for online gaming. norway has marked the tenth anniversary of a massacre when 69 people were killed on an island by a gunman. survivors of the attack have called for more to be done to tackle racism and right—wing extremism. the upper house of the czech parliament has approved a bill which would compensate mostly roma women who were forcibly sterilised. the practice began in the 1960s during communism but continued until 2012 and authorities had threatened to withhold state benefits are taken away existing children if the women got pregnant again. the czech government issued a formal
apology 11 years ago. large wildfires have been burning across a timber ridge region in northern russia. officials say there are about 30 fires across 9000 hectares close to the border with finland. a state of emergency was declared. the british rock icon eric clapton has said he will not perform at venues that require concertgoers to be fully vaccinated against covid—19. he says he will not perform anywhere there is what he calls anywhere there is what he calls a discriminated audience present. and make the guitarist said he had experienced a severe reaction to the astrazeneca vaccine. before we go, a freshly—delivered twist on our top story — the tokyo olympics. st luke's hospital in missouri is hosting an olympics celebration of its own, dressing newborn babies in tiny team usa outfits. they're even awarding medals to what they're calling their mini �*athletes'. if there's something special being done to celebrate the olympics where you are then do tell us about it — send us some pictures if you can — you can reach me on twitter, i'm @richpreston.
you can reach me on twitter — i'm @ richpreston. the heatwave is coming to an end, it may not feel like it right away because it's been so hot for so long. and in northern ireland on thursday, we beat the all—time high record once again, 31.4 celsius, that's three times in the space of a week that northern ireland has beaten its all—time high temperature record. and the amber warning from the met office of extreme heat is still in force for friday, that's because the temperatures will remain high during the night and during the daytime. you can see through the early hours in some areas, temperatures still around 20 degrees celsius. it is quiet on the weather and, at least for now, clear skies across many western and southern areas but through the morning and into
the afternoon, some coastal towns and cities along the north sea coast, probably staying cloudy, fairly cool as well, relatively speaking, with the breeze blowing out of the east and that heat still travelling towards the west, this is where we will have the higher temperatures so once again, 30 degrees isjust about possible in northern ireland, high 20s across wales, may be the midlands, look at that, only 24 degrees expected in london. lots of sunshine, the possibility of a thunderstorm during the afternoon and then in the evening, clouds are increasing in the southwest of the country. so friday night, we could see some thunderstorms, and that heralds a really thundery weekend for many of us with slow—moving downpours brought by this area of low pressure on saturday and on sunday. the best of the weather will actually be across scotland and northern ireland, so this is where the sunshine will be. where it's further south, you can see from morning onwards, we've got cloud, outbreaks of rain, some thunderstorms, and remember, these are slow—moving storms, so a lot of rainfall in a relatively small area, in a short space of time,
leading to potential flash floods. temperatures quite a bit lower, mostly in the low 20s. similar weather expected on sunday, if anything, the storms could be even more severe across some southern and southeastern areas. again, the best of the weather out towards the northwest. glasgow could be the warm spot, possibly northern ireland as well, around 24 celsius. and the cool weather is expected next week with low pressure close by, bringing fresher conditions. that's it from me.
this is bbc news, the headlines: tokyo's olympic organisers say the opening ceremony will go ahead in a few hours time without any major changes — despite the sacking of the show�*s creative director — over past comments he made about the holocaust. daily covid infections in tokyo are now higher than at any time since january. tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the central chinese region of henan where officials have confirmed that at least 33 people have died. that includes a dozen commuters in the provincial capital zhengzhou who were caught on the city's underground as carriages filled with water. the us has said china's reluctance to allow an audit of some of its laboratories, as part of an investigation into the orgins of covid—19, is irresponsible and dangerous. the world health organisation has said the international probe should include an investigation of a lab in wuhan.