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 too do the covid cases and controversies. the opening ceremony is just hours away. china deals with the devastating aftermath of catastrophic flooding. thousands are evacuated from henan province — at least 33 people are confirmed dead. the us government imposes sanctions on cuban security officials involved in the repression of peaceful protests. and slovenian diver alenka artnik sets a new world record for free—diving more than 120 metres.
good morning and a very warm welcome to bbc news. 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. despite being postponed, the games are not clear of covid. there have already been more than 90 confirmed coronavirus cases in tokyo directly linked the games. 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 fow. 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.
our sports presenter, sarah mulkerrins, is in tokyo and gave us an idea of some of the names we should be looking out for. once we get the opening ceremony over and done with we are going to be talking about those big double names, the japanese hosts will want to look out for naomi osaka, the four—time grand slam winner in the tennis, they hope she will be able to bring a medal, novak djokovic going for what they call a golden slam, all the grand slam titles and olympic gold but look at the more traditional olympic sports as such, track and field, shelly ann fraserfrom jamaica, ann fraser from jamaica, william springer, ann fraserfrom jamaica, william springer, 3a, going to be going for a third olympic gold in the 100 metres so that would be some achievement. in the pool we love watching the swimming at the olympics, watch out for the american pairing, shirley dominant but if you
were to ask everyone all around the world for one name as to who 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 perform with big smiles, amazing leaps and bounds and tricks that she does and i am delighted to say we can speak to her former coach, who owns a gymnasium in houston where she first started training as a six—year—old. tell us when she was six could you tell she was destined for this sort of level?— this sort of level? hello. it's hard to tell _ this sort of level? hello. it's hard to tell now, _ this sort of level? hello. it's hard to tell now, i _ this sort of level? hello. it's hard to tell now, i mean, i this sort of level? hello. it'sl hard to tell now, i mean, she was _ hard to tell now, i mean, she was definitely, she had star power— was definitely, she had star power and she was amazing. to think_ power and she was amazing. to think she — power and she was amazing. to think she was going to be here, going _ think she was going to be here, going for— think she was going to be here, going for her second olympics, i couldn't— going for her second olympics, i couldn't say i was thinking about— i couldn't say i was thinking about it _ i couldn't say i was thinking about it at that point.-
about it at that point. what made her _ about it at that point. what made her stand _ about it at that point. what made her stand out - about it at that point. what l made her stand out from the rest? 3 made her stand out from the rest? �* ., , ., ., ., rest? a tremendous amount of ener: , rest? a tremendous amount of energy. she — rest? a tremendous amount of energy. she was _ rest? a tremendous amount of energy, she was such - rest? a tremendous amount of energy, she was such fun - rest? a tremendous amount of energy, she was such fun at i rest? a tremendous amount of| energy, she was such fun at the gym. _ energy, she was such fun at the gym, willing to tryjust about everything although she has some — everything although she has some fears but her fears, they can't _ some fears but her fears, they can't compare it to yours and mine — can't compare it to yours and mine she _ can't compare it to yours and mine. she wasjust happy and wanted to try any skills and it was _ wanted to try any skills and it was furl _ wanted to try any skills and it was fun. nothing was weird or different— was fun. nothing was weird or different for her. so i think, that— different for her. so i think, thatiust _ different for her. so i think, thatjust 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, nothing gets. — goes on, she is on, nothing gets. i_ goes on, she is on, nothing gets, i mean... it goes away
from _ gets, i mean... it goes away from her, — gets, i mean... it goes away from her, everything, ijust don't. _ from her, everything, ijust don't. it's_ from her, everything, ijust don't, it'sjust amazing. don't, it's just amazing. before _ don't, it'sjust amazing. before we let you go, what do you think she can achieve here in tokyo?— in tokyo? definitely she could aet all in tokyo? definitely she could get all the _ in tokyo? definitely she could get all the medal _ in tokyo? definitely she could get all the medal that - in tokyo? definitely she could get all the medal that she - get all the medal that she wants— get all the medal that she wants to. on the balance beam, the vault, the floor, the team medal, — the vault, the floor, the team medal, all—around, what type of metal, _ medal, all—around, what type of metal, probably most of them gold! — metal, probably most of them gold! but also, what she can achieve _ gold! but also, what she can achieve is— gold! but also, what she can achieve is even more fame and more _ achieve is even more fame and more power so she can really change — more power so she can really change that sport. more power so she can really change that sport. 30 change that sport. so lovely to have ou change that sport. so lovely to have you with _ have you with us on the programme. the former coach of simone biles who is undoubtedly one of the stars of these olympic games here in tokyo.
todayis olympic games here in tokyo. today is friday, friday morning here in tokyo, the opening ceremony will get under way at apm local time, really scaled back from the usual razzmatazz that we would see at an opening ceremony, a much more subdued and sombre affair in keeping with the pandemic in which these games are happening. that was our sports — these games are happening. that was our sports correspondent in tokyo. 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. the united states has imposed sanctions on a senior cuban official and a security force which answers to the cuban ministry of the interior. it's 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. carmen pelaez is a cuban american film maker and activist. she is a communications consultant to the current biden she is on gasparilla island in florida. thank you so much for taking the time tojoin thank you so much for taking the time to join us. these sanctions on cuban officials over what the us government says it was repression of anti—government protests, what do you make of them?
anti-government protests, what do you make of them?— do you make of them? well, i think they _ do you make of them? well, i think they are _ do you make of them? well, i think they are the first - do you make of them? well, i think they are the first step i think they are the first step in letting the cuban people know the regime will be held accountable by world accou nta ble by world governments. accountable by world governments. they were brutal in their response to peaceful protests and they need to know the world is watching. what protests and they need to know the world is watching.— the world is watching. what do those who _ the world is watching. what do those who have _ the world is watching. what do those who have been - the world is watching. what do | those who have been protesting make of the sanctions?- those who have been protesting make of the sanctions? well, we haven't quite _ make of the sanctions? well, we haven't quite gotten _ make of the sanctions? well, we haven't quite gotten word of - haven't quite gotten word of how they feel about it to hold their own regime accountable without being violently attacked by that regime. i think the more we let the cuban people know that we see the work that they are doing, that we hear that they are calling for freedom for their human rights, the safer they will feel when holding that regime accountable for their own failures. president
obama eased _ their own failures. president obama eased sanctions - their own failures. president obama eased sanctions on l their own failures. president - obama eased sanctions on cuba, there was a bit of a doubling in relations, president trump reimposed sanctions, when president biden came into office there was a slight anticipation, expectation that the following may begin again but what did he sanction say about the tone of future cuban us relations?— about the tone of future cuban us relations? the problem is in that time the _ us relations? the problem is in that time the cuban _ us relations? the problem is in that time the cuban regime - us relations? the problem is in| that time the cuban regime also increased their repression of the people. so they also showed that they were acting in bad faith. ithink that they were acting in bad faith. i think right now nobody knows what is next. but we are all looking towards the cuban people to see what they want to do next, how they want to protest at what difference they want to make for their own country. we are really following their lead and i think that is the right thing to do at this moment. because a lot of people have opinions about cuba, but we need to send them and send their voices and
their actions.— their actions. you are in florida, _ their actions. you are in florida, there _ their actions. you are in florida, there is - their actions. you are in florida, there is a - florida, there is a big cuban population there, how much pressure is that community exerting on president biden and how much is a striving his agenda?— how much is a striving his arenda? , �* , agenda? president biden is -robabl agenda? president biden is probably one _ agenda? president biden is probably one of _ agenda? president biden is probably one of the - agenda? president biden is probably one of the most i agenda? president biden is i probably one of the most truly moral leaders we have ever had. he is a man who says what he means and i think he understands the cuban dyas bro, i think he understands their calls for accountability but make no mistake, president biden will always try and do the right thing and i think thatis the right thing and i think that is what he is doing now. he is holding the five actors accountable, holding a failed state accountable and even though, yes, people are calling for it, people in miami are calling for different things. you have many of us calling for peaceful humanitarian, international intervention and you have those who are calling violence for violence and i think president biden is doing
the right thing by amplifying the right thing by amplifying the message that the cuban people are getting out through their cell phones or videos showing world leaders and world actors what is actually happening in cuba and trying to create that network to hold the regime, the regime �*s feet to the fire. if you want to lead your people you have to listen to them and i think he is responding more to the cuban people than those who may or may not vote for him.- people than those who may or may not vote for him. thank you for taking _ may not vote for him. thank you for taking the — may not vote for him. thank you for taking the time _ may not vote for him. thank you for taking the time to speak- may not vote for him. thank you for taking the time to speak to l for taking the time to speak to us. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: our correspondent in tokyo looks ahead to an olympics in her home city — and looks back at family memories of the last time the summer games came to japan. 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 pronerly. _ 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, the latest headlines... 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. china deals with the devastating aftermath of catastrophic flooding. thousands are evacuated from the henan region — at least 33 people are confirmed dead. 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. let's get some of the day's other news. new zealand has suspended its quarantine—free travel bubble with australia for at least eight weeks. the bubble opened to great fanfare in april this year after both countries appeared to have managed the covid—19 pandemic. but the emergence of the delta variant and rising cases have forced authorities to act.
several popular websites around the world have been affected by an outage of service, linked to problems at the web provider akamai. it says the issue has now been fixed, and was not caused by a cyber attack. among the sites affected were aianb, the ups delivery service, british airways and the playstation network used for online games. the upper house of the czech parliament has approved a bill which would compensate hundreds of mostly roma women, who were forcibly sterilised. the practice began in the 1960s during the communist era, and continued until 2012. authorities would threaten to withhold state benefits — or even take away existing children — if they got pregnant again. the czech government issued a formal apology 11 years ago. 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 3a seconds. well, a short time ago, i spoke to alenka and asked he how she is feeling after setting her third world record this week. amazing, you 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, 122 metres down, scuba divers often do not go that deep, what is it like down there, you have to wear a head torch? exactly, this blue hole is 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, in this blue hole, 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 so dark and basically, you close your eyes and at some point, you start sinking like a stone and this sensation is just really magical. we must 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 sport, so basically, we need to train our signals, all the athletes, we need to spend a lot of hours in the gym, so strength it's very important. we need to train a lot in the pool to master the fin technique and then we have to do a lot of specific breath holding training because we need to develop our hypoxytolerance, for this reason, we do everything while holding our breath and there is, i would 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 exercises for the rib cage
flexibility as well. let's go back to our top story now the olympics, of course — and one person who is following very closely how the games have changed tokyo is our very own mariko oi. she's been describing what it's like to cover the olympics in her hometown. 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.
that is it from us. thank you for watching. 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 front, 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, maybe 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 hunan, 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. washington has imposed sanctions on cuba's defence minister and a unit of the country's security forces over the repression of 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. now on bbc news, panorama. a grand national—winning trainer shamed after being pictured sitting on a dead horse. the prominent trainer gordon elliott has been temporarily banned from racing. it was an image that shocked the horse racing world. what concerned me was not particularly gordon elliott being an idiot, but the fact there's a dead young horse below him. tonight, we investigate what happens to racehorses when their careers end. sadly, so many of them come to us with injuries and ailments that need time and need, without a doubt, a large amount of funding. the fate of some of the thousands of young horses dying in the uk and ireland every year.