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CONNECT THE WORLD
Human Rights Watch Declares War Crimes On Both Sides In Syrian Conflict Appalling; Interview with Olympic Organizer Sebastian Coe
Aired August 1, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Highs and lows as eight badminton players are kicked out of the games, accused of playing to lose. But it's a golden day for Team GB as Bradley Wiggins cycles into British Olympic history.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Max Foster at CNN London. As Syria's president calls on his army to restore calm, fresh allegations of atrocities not carried out by the regime, but by the rebels.
And remembering a literary genius who both shocked and amused, American writer and commentator Gore Vidal died at the age of 86.
ANDERSON: Team GB's golden dream is finally a reality. The host nation celebrating their first gold medals today. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins rides into the history books taking gold in the men's time trial and becoming Britain's most decorated Olympian of all time. Well, that triumph came shortly after victory in the water for rowing pair Heather Stanning and Helen Glover.
But casting a shadow on the celebrations today, scandal on the badminton court. The world badminton federation has dismissed appeals for two South Korean women's double's teams who were thrown out of the Olympics for trying to lose matches. Eight female players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia were disqualified.
Well, tonight I'm surrounded by Olympic champions, gold medal winning sprinter and CNN contributor Linford Christie in the house here, still the only British man to win gold in all four of the major athletics competitions. And the American Olympic diver Greg Louganis, widely thought of as the greatest high board performer of all time.
Two big stories out of these games. I don't think I'm being partisan tonight, Greg, when we start with the host nation, Team GB, getting their first gold medals. And Bradley Wiggins, cycling into the history books last week at the Tour de France and today Linford, once again, making British Olympic history with seven golds, outdoing Sir Steve Redgrave. How about that?
LINFORD CHRISTIE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's quite a feat. And to think, you know, the Tour de France is such a grueling race and to, you know, finish that and come again here and, you know, ride and to win gold, that's just an amazing feat.
ANDERSON: Greg, it's quite something isn't it when you win one gold, but when you win seven Olympic medals and you ride into those history books it's quite a feat.
GREG LOUGANIS, U.S. OLYMPIC DIVER: Yeah, it's quite a feat and a bit obsessive, you know.
ANDERSON: 48 kilometers or so today. Who to say, you know, Tour de France, just, what, 10 days ago. He's got to cycle at like something like 50 kilometers an hour for nearly 50 kilometers. It wasn't a very tough race so far as the sort of topography is concerned, but he's still a youngster, Bradley Wiggins, isn't he? I mean, he's quite phenomenal what we saw.
LOUGANIS: It's incredible. He has a wonderful future to look forward to.
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah. All right, well, Team GB both in the pool -- sorry, in the rowing pond and cycling today. Wiggo, as he's nicknamed, is on a winning streak and he's picking up plenty of fans along the way. Have a listen to this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We deserved it.
Being the greatest country on earth, we deserved it, there you go.
UNIDNETIFIED MALE: It's amazing to see the guys who see -- especially the guys who have just been riding the tour to see them in the flesh is fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it's fantastic, it's great. Yeah, we won the gold in the rowing, but it's great -- two golds in a day, brilliant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing athlete, really good for British cycling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the best athlete. He's the best Olympian ever now. There's no beating him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be in cycling is even better, it'll be great for the sport. So after he won the Tour de France everyone went cycling crazy, now this. They'll just -- everyone will be buying bikes and cycling everywhere. It'll be crazy.
ANDERSON: Arise Sir Bradley Wiggins. We are expecting him to be knighted if history is anything to go by being the best British Olympic athlete of all time, certainly that does deserve the knighthood. Watch out (inaudible).
Well, that was the good news -- well, some of the good news certainly out of what has been a fantastic day five here at the Olympic park. The Badminton Federation, though, making a decision today which has been controversial at least. Let me just give you a back drop to what happened. Eight badminton players, four pairs -- two from China, one from South Korea, and one from Indonesia, were expelled today for, and I quote, "the federation not using one's best efforts, or not trying hard enough to win a match."
Was it simply these guys were not giving 100 percent, or did these players chuck matches in order to manipulate what was going on as they moved through the knockout -- the heats into the knockout stages going forward? It was decided after some really pathetic games as far as the fans at least here at the Olympic Park were concerned. These guys simply hadn't performed and the Olympic spirit suggests you've got to do your best all the time.
Well, after the federation's decision to expel them, this is what they had to say a little earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS LUND, BADMINTON WORLD CHIEF EXECUTIVE: I've not as disciplinary committee reviewed all the evidence, or seen all the written material, but what I've heard is that it was pretty obvious and that way, of course, very -- very serious case that was displayed for the world audience.
It is the responsibility of the team members, the entourage around the players, to live up to the standards in our regulations, the players' code of conduct, to go after winning every match. That's the bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Guys it's interesting what happened today, lots of chat about this on the Twittersphere and in the (inaudible). These guys, it seems, didn't play their best at the beginning of a tournament possibly so that they could manipulate where they got to in the sort of closing rounds.
Now some people would call that tactics, and some people would call that against the spirit of the games. What would you call it, Greg?
LOUGANIS: Well, I mean, the spirit of the games. I mean, you take an athlete's oath at the beginning of the games. I mean, you are supposed to put your best effort forward. You know, you shouldn't be looking to manipulate, you know, what run you're going to be competing in.
ANDERSON: But it does happen, come on. In many events.
LOUGANIS: You know, don't be so obvious, I guess. Geez.
ANDERSON: And this may have been their crime. Possibly they were playing too obviously and too pathetically for the crowd. And it does -- that is important, isn't it, that the crowd is here paying to be entertained.
CHRISTIE: Well, they are. But, you know, the problem is, I mean, I think the crime is, like Greg said, you know, they maybe too obvious. Because something we do in athletics, you know, you cruise through the round, because you're trying to save energy for the final. And, you know, in a lot of the events that's exactly what happens. So I mean, if the rule -- if it allows them to do it, then what they need to do is change the rules.
ANDERSON: Let's see what Lord Sebastian Coe, the London chair, had to say earlier on about this. He said he was depressed and appalled by the badminton scandal. Plenty of you having your say, but not everybody agrees with what Seb Coe said. Have a listen to this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't play fair and square from the beginning, then the whole thing is a nonsense. So, yeah, I think if there's any question at all you have to say that's it, you're out. Sorry for them, but it's not fair on all the other athletes who are there really keen and want to get through if he's -- to me it's cheating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Them kicked out is maybe a bit strong punishment, but I think that you need to do your best at the Olympics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all part of the games. They are trying to eventually win a gold medal. It wasn't like they were losing it for betting purposes. They were trying to win a gold. And they thought by losing a certain match it was going to help them win it overall. No problem with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; It's cheating the spectators, as well I think, who come to see a fair and square match.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Was it right that they were expelled very briefly?
CHRISTIE: No, I don't think so. I think they should maybe have given them a warning, but as someone today said, what it's -- they're trying to - - it's not that they're trying to the whole game, they're just trying to save energy to win the gold. And I think that's all right.
LOUGANIS: Yeah, you know, that's a hard call, because I mean, in diving I mean you have to put your very best effort forward. I mean, if you win prelims you're setting yourself up to win the semis and then the finals. So I mean, you always have to put your best foot forward. So, I mean, things like that, you know, it's very foreign to me.
ANDERSON: Interesting topic of conversation. Eight athletes, though, out of the games as a result of the decision that was made today.
All right, we are going to take a very short break here on CNN. Much more from the Olympic Park coming up later in the show, including London 2012 head Sep Coe's reaction to that scandal.
For now, though, it is back to Max for some of the rest of the day's stories.
FOSTER: Thank you, Becky.
Coming up, Syria's president tries to rally his troops at a crucial stage in the civil war. And we'll have much more when Connect the World continues.
FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.
Now the United Nations is calling on both sides in Syria's civil war to protect civilian lives as fighting intensifies across the country. Opposition activists say at least 117 people were killed today, including 70 in Damascus. Fierce battles in Aleppo as well where rebels now claim to control half the city.
President Bashar al-Assad is urging his troops to fight on, saying Syria's destiny is at stake. He told them, quote, "our people look to you as you defend their honor and dignity and give the nation back its stability."
New video filmed by Syrian rebels appears to suggest they're now resorting to the same sort of brutal tactics the regime is accused of when it comes to enemy fighters. Our Ivan Watson is in northern Syria with a story of revenge. And we do warn you that some of the images you're about to see are extremely disturbing.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle for Aleppo is turning uglier and more vicious by the day with both sides apparently oblivious to the laws of war.
On Monday, rebels and government security forces clashed around the Bab el-Narab (ph) police station in eastern Aleppo. Rebels told CNN they were then attacked by members of the Bedi Clan (ph), a pro-government militia. At least 11 rebel fighters were killed. The next day, their comrades went looking for revenge capturing several members of the Bedi family (ph). The rebels filmed and distributed video of their fighters kicking and beating two men.
The cameraman identifies one of them as a man he calls Zano Bedi (ph). We next see Bedi (ph) bloody and almost naked in a room full of prisoners.
"These are the Bedi (ph) Shabiha," says a voice off camera. "They attacked the people of Aleppo. And they killed 11 Free Syrian Army members."
One by one, the captives mumble their names to the camera.
The next rebel video shows Zano Bedi (ph) and several other prisoners being led outside.
"Don't shoot. Nobody shoot," someone says. But that's not enough to stop what can only be described as a summary execution. Intense gunfire continues for almost a minute.
An official with the Tauheed (ph) brigade, a large rebel group that operates in northern Syria, claimed responsibility for these extrajudicial killings. In a phone call with CNN he said the executions were carried out in retaliation for the rebels killed by the Bedi (ph) clan.
"We conducted an investigation. Judged them guilty. And then took them outside and carried out the execution on approximately 12:00 noon on Tuesday," said the spokesman who asked only to be called Abu Ahmed (ph).
For the last 17 months international organizations have denounced the Syrian government for committing atrocities against unarmed civilians. The Free Syrian Army has often promised that its men will fight by the rules of war and treat prisoners humanely. But this week's rebel killings in Aleppo suggest the start of a bloody cycle of revenge.
Ivan Watson, CNN, reporting from northern Syria.
FOSTER: Well, a few days before Ivan filed that report, a Free Syrian Army member promised that rebels would not mistreat any captives. This statement was made by Abdul RasakqqTlas, cousin of the highest ranking Syrian military defector to date. He's also a prominent defector. We can't say if he speaks for all Syrian rebels.
In this message he promises they will abide by the Geneva conventions regarding prisoners of war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDUL RAZAQQ TLAS, FREE SYRIAN ARMY (subtitles): ...that includes meeting their needs of food and medical attention. We try to keep them as far as possible from the battlefields and areas that could endanger their lives.
We also announce that we are quite ready to receive delegates from the international Red Cross on a regular basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: So, are rebels committed to respecting the Geneva conventions? What about that apparent execution video we saw a few minutes ago. Well, let's talk about this with Ausama Monajed. He's a spokesman for Syria's largest opposition group the Syrian National Council.
Thank you very much indeed for joining us.
This video is a problem isn't it, for the whole opposition?
AUSAMA MONAJED, SPOKESMAN, SYRIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL: Well, it is a crime. And we announced that we should issue a statement that this should not happen. And given the fact that he FSA, the Free Syrian Army and the battalion groups, the fighting groups on the ground, did issue several statements in the past confirming that they will comply with Geneva convention and they will not attack civilians.
And there is a very famous video released a few weeks ago before the escalation in Aleppo took place, it shows a big major meeting of the heads and leaders of the battalions and fighting groups who were coordinating the attacks in Aleppo and they all confirming and agreeing on certain rules and terms not to attack civilians and not to kill prisoners and not to torture. And even the Syrian National Council have issued a document in also collaboration with the FSA that these kind of ill-treatment or crimes will not be tolerated.
FOSTER: Human Rights Watch say it was potentially a war crime what we saw in this video. Do you agree?
MONAJED: It is a crime. And we still yet to -- we need to examine whether this group in particular is linked to the structure of the Free Syrian Army and to who are those in leadership and who has given such orders.
As you know, the Free Syrian Army is kind of a loose organization. It's all fighting groups and battalions and whoever opposes Assad and defects from the army and military. They form a battalion or a fighting unit to defend certain neighborhoods or villages or town. And they announce that they are part of the Free Syrian Army, doesn't mean it's all part of a central command or there's a very rigid chain of command in place in order to point fingers to one direction or another.
FOSTER: Is this a rare, one-off or a problem with the culture within the rebel movement right now? Human Rights Watch also saying they've been seeing evidence of abuses such as torture and executions by rebel elements for some time. Are you concerned that somehow the political opposition is losing control of the rebels?
MONAJED: It's still -- these kind of violations and crimes, it's still a very, very -- it's a low level and really isolated incidents here and there and almost most of the time are contaminated and contained in a way, because everyone knows that that impact and effect that this will have on everyone's image and vision on future Syria.
And therefore, we cannot really by any chance compare the atrocities and massacres and horrible and horrific thing that the Assad regime is doing to these very minor or isolated incidents, despite the fact that we condemn them and despite the fact that these are crimes and should not take place.
FOSTER: If you do gain power in Syria, will you hold these people to account in the same way as you would have done the other side?
FOSTER: OK, thank you very much indeed for joining us, Ausama.
We are going to take you to a short break now, but when we do come back, the lights are back on for India, but what happened while they were off. More on the country's worst blackout in over a decade next.
FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London, welcome back. I'm Max Foster. Here's a look at some stories connecting our world tonight. News just coming in from the U.S. state of Texas, an air force official says a bomb threat was called into the San Antonio International Airport. Up until a couple of minutes ago, all terminals were evacuated. One of those terminals has just been reopened. These are live pictures out of San Antonio. Arriving planes have been parked away from the terminal and passengers are staying on board. We'll bring you more details as we get them.
Engineers have restored power in Northern India after the worst blackout in more than a decade. It ground the country to a halt. Some 600 million people, around half of India's population, were left to battle the sweltering heat when three major power grids failed on Tuesday. Roads, businesses and industrial operations were also forced to shut down. Officials say the outage was caused by a rise in energy demands, not uncommon in the hot summer months.
An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in western Uganda has now killed at least 16 people. It's thought that dozens more may be infected. Teams of health experts are working around the clock to try to contain the virus. Officials are urging civilians to avoid contact with infected individuals and to alert them of any suspected cases.
U.S. Department of Agriculture says that half of the nation's counties are now considered disaster zones due to the devastating droughts and extreme heat seen in recent months. The harsh conditions mean heavy losses for farmers, especially in the corn industry where 50 percent of its crop output was rated as poor. The USDA also warned that food prices could rise by 4.5 percent in the next year.
Plenty more still to come on Connect the World. Becky is in the Olympic Park -- Becky.
ANDERSON: And that's right. And plenty of action day five at the Olympics. Two gold for the host nation finally. A stunning performance in the gymnastics for Japans Kuhei Uchimora. And the fans still lapping up the action in the pool, the aquatic center there behind me.
It has, though, been a scandal that has cast a shadow over day five. Some say a scandal that certainly that goes against the spirit of the games.
Earlier I spoke to the London organizing chair Seb Coe, about the badminton saga that's seen eight female players thrown out of the Olympics for not trying hard enough to win their matches.
SEBASTIAN COE, LONDON 2012 ORGANIZING COMMITTEE CHAIR: The Olympic values are friendship, respect, and excellence. And on not one of those counts did what we see in that badminton venue, you know, fit. So the badminton federation were quite right. They made absolutely the right decision to be really tough on them.
ANDERSON: The former head of the World Anti-doping Association spoke to me today. Dick Pound said that he believes only 10 percent of cheats are ever caught.
COE: I'm not going to trade percentages or numbers. I do think we are in a more grown up environment where we're openly discussing this. You know, my own sport pulled nine competitors out before the championships because, you know, we were able to compare blood samples in what we call the blood passport.
We take this very seriously. Sport takes it every seriously. And it comes back to what I said a moment ago about confidence. You know, we have to know when we're watching a sport that what -- you know the fans are watching something that is legitimate and the guy in lane three knows that the guy in lane four is, you know, is running with all the same attributes: good coaching, great national governing bodies, fantastic natural talent and hard work, not because somebody has got a chemist in lane four than they have in lane six.
ANDERSON: We are not even halfway through the games as of yet. How are you feeling?
COE: Exhilarated, the sport is really of a sensational -- you know, I haven't seen the record count today, but I think we've had about seven world records so far. They've been in a range of distances. And 34 different countries have won medals. So it's in good shape out there.
ANDERSON: Relieved to see some golds for Team GB?
COE: Yeah, that's nice, that's nice. Winning came become infectious. And that's what you want to sweep through a team.
ANDERSON: Seb Coe speaking to me about the badminton, about the doping scandal that's been brewing here over the last four or five days and just how he feels about having organized what is quite the most phenomenal event here in London.
Well, still to come on Connect the World, London's transport network also aiming for gold. Five days into the games we'll take a look at how that is holding up.
FOSTER: But first, one of the most controversial and celebrated writers of our time, Gore Vidal, dies at the age of 86.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson at the Olympic Park. Much more from here later in the show. First, here's Max with the latest world news headlines here on CNN.
FOSTER: The UN says Syrian rebels in Aleppo are now armed with tanks and heavy weapons and it's calling on both sides to protect civilian lives. President Bashar al-Assad rallied his troops to fight on today, saying Syria's destiny is at stake.
The World Badminton Federation has dismissed appeals from two South Korean women's doubles teams who were disqualified for not trying hard enough to win their matches. Eight female players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia were kicked out of the doubles competition.
Crews have restored power in India after the worst blackout in more than a decade ground the country to a halt. Some 600 million people were left without electricity when three major power grids failed on Tuesday. Roads, businesses, and industrial operations were also forced to shut down.
Gore Vidal, actor, author, and social commentator has died at the age of 86. Vidal was a prolific writer with over 20 published novels, and he appeared in a number of Hollywood films, as well. He died at home of complications from pneumonia.
FOSTER: Sharp, cutting, and often controversial, Vidal will be remembered as much for his personal wit as for his writing, as Richard Roth reports.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gore Vidal died, fittingly, on matinee day in New York. One of his most famous works, "The Best Man," is in a Broadway revival.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very sad day. Gore was an original. This is his greatest play.
ROTH: At the famed Strand book store, Vidal's volumes were on display.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wrote bestselling books that were accessible but not simple.
ROTH: Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, Jr. was born in 1925 at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. And this iconoclast certainly marched to a different beat the rest of his life. Author, playwright, actor, political candidate, and all-around provocateur. Modest? Never.
GORE VIDAL, AUTHOR: I have a strange sort of aphasia. I have these memory lapses. I -- I can't remember being wrong. And I do remember being right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gore Vidal was born at exactly the right time. He was not only the greatest living American man of letters, but he was also perfect for the media and the TV age.
ROTH: Vidal did serve in the army, but took no prisoners the whole of his life. He was an acerbic aristocrat who did not suffer fools.
Vidal would accept prestigious literary awards later in life, but lamented the state of the writers' profession.
VIDAL: Readers are few. All these literary prizes should go to readers. Nobel Prize for the best reader in Milwaukee.
ROTH: One of his first books was a 1948 novel about homosexual love, which attracted controversy and notoriety. More controversy almost a half a century later when he sympathized with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
VIDAL: He went ahead out of a sense of justice.
ROTH: Vidal ran unsuccessfully for political office twice. The star of his "Best Man" political play is a big admirer.
JOHN STAMOS, ACTOR: I always knew I loved the guy, but I found this quote. He said, "Never miss the opportunity to have sex or be on television." That's me!
ROTH: Vidal sparred in numerous public feuds with fellow writers such as Mailer, Buckley, and Capote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vidal always wanted to have the last word, so I think the most beautiful thing, if you can find a beautiful thing in someone's death, is that I think he outlived all of his rivals. And I think he did achieve his goal: he had the last word.
ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.
FOSTER: Well, the tributes really have been coming in thick and fast from his Hollywood admirers. "Star Trek" actor Zachary Quinto said, "Gore Vidal, one of Tennessee's closest and a true revolutionary incendiary insightful -- incisive. Missed by many already."
Actress Joan Collins paid tribute, saying "So sad, my friend the brilliant Gore Vidal has died. He was a total and -- well, he was a total original and a genius."
And Michael Moore paraphrased one of Vidal's famous quotations tweeting, "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper, half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half."
Now, we're lucky enough to be joined by one of Gore Vidal's good friends, poet and novelist Jay Parini, who's at Middlebury College in Vermont. Thank you so much for joining us. Many people wonder what his motivation was, but what do you think he saw his role as being?
JAY PARINI, FRIEND OF GORE VIDAL: I think he saw his role as being a public scold. He looked around and he saw potholes in the road and he saw many of them in a zillion different shapes, and he said, "There is a pothole." He pointed his finger.
He was like a hawk, surveying the landscape, finding things that were -- that went against the grain, his own grain. He was essentially an American intellectual with roots in the Enlightenment. He believed in the American Republic and the ideals of the founding fathers, and he was much annoyed by the things that have happened in the last 200 and some years.
FOSTER: He said he'd had targets in his lifetime. Were they consistent targets, or did they change over time?
PARINI: Well, he -- he attacked politicians from the beginning. He attacked Richard Nixon. He wrote a whole play on Broadway called "An Evening With Richard Nixon," which was scathing. And he was a wonderful mimic. His jowl would shudder when he would play Richard Nixon.
He made fun of Ronald Reagan. He called him our "acting president." He did wonderful imitations of Reagan. But he saved his lifetime of scorn, I think, in one fell swoop he attacked George W. Bush, whom he condemned for, he said, "trading American young men for oil in the Middle East, killing people for oil."
So, Gore was -- Gore took, as your commentator said earlier, he took no prisoners. He was a ferocious social critic. He was a scold. But he was also a brilliant historian who looked deep and hard at American culture and at world politics, and he saw the discrepancies and the injustices, and he hated injustice wherever he saw it.
And he pointed to it. He saw the role of the public intellectual as one of pointing a finger and saying, "Look, that's not right. You can do better than that." And Gore spent a lifetime, decades doing that.
FOSTER: He befriended Timothy McVeigh, which was very controversial. What was he doing there? Was that a personal journey, or was this a message to people to sort of buck up in some way?
PARINI: Well, he never really supported Timothy McVeigh's politics. He abhorred Timothy McVeigh's politics. But Timothy McVeigh had sent a very kind letter to Gore, and I think this had somehow appealed to Gore.
One of the sides of Vidal, he was a personal friend of mine over 30 years, and he was actually a very kind man who responded to all personal inquiries. And he listened carefully and he tried to help people wherever he could, and he just simply on a human level connected to Timothy McVeigh, but it was not really a political thing.
FOSTER: OK, Jay Parini, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, Eastern economies are taking off, but their countries aren't coming along for the ride. We'll take a look at the growing pains being felt in some of the world's emerging markets.
FOSTER: While many of us in the West are feeling the strains of a gloomy economy, it's a completely different picture in the East. Eastern economies are booming. It's not just India and China. Smaller countries in the region are catching up.
Indonesia now has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but it's not all good news, as CNN's Sara Sidner has been finding out.
ADRIAN WONOTO, OWNER, CV JAYA FURNITURE: Depending on the design, you can have some items that can be done in a few hours. Some designs that can be -- that have to be done in three days.
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Global demand is keeping Adrian Wonoto and his workers busy. Jakarta's infrastructure is keeping him guessing.
WONOTO: If we get the production timing right, what about the shipment?
SIDNER: It's 5:00 PM, and the third-generation furniture maker is ready to send off two containers filled with handmade rattan chairs and tables. Once at the port, his furniture will be shipped to the United States, Europe, and Latin America. But first, it has to get through this.
SIDNER: Idling engines and honking horns, the sound of progress in Jakarta. Each and every day, 300 new cars hit the already-packed city streets. Officials say bad traffic is a sign of Indonesia's strong growth, but also of an infrastructure struggling to keep up.
BAMBANG SUSANTONO, DEPUTY TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: The honest answer for them is that we are late in trying to cope with the demand.
SIDNER: Wonoto says slowly his business is learning to adapt.
WONOTO: We just assume it's going to be -- there's going to be traffic, it's going to take a certain amount of hours to reach the port. It takes a certain amount of days to arrange. So, we schedule pick them up.
SIDNER: Tonight, he expects the shipment to take up to four hours to reach the port, just under 30 kilometers away.
WONOTO: If a foreigner is surprised to see all the -- all the economic growth amidst the strife of lack of infrastructure, that surprises me, too. But, well, we work in many ways around it.
SIDNER: It's estimated the gridlock costs the city more than $3 billion a year. But it hasn't stopped businesses like Wonoto's from succeeding.
One and a half hours later, the container passes the port gates, well ahead of tomorrow's shipment.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Jakarta.
FOSTER: From the Gateway --
ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Next --
FOSTER: -- we're going to go back to the Olympic Park. And there's Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, you are. This is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD from the Olympic Park here. London 2012, the Olympics, of course.
When we come back, Bradley Wiggins has now bagged the most British medals of all time. Michael Phelps has the world record, the Olympic record for medals. But who gets the title of the greatest Olympian of our time? That we're going to discuss with our great Olympians here with me in London after this.
ANDERSON: We're back at Olympic Park here in London. Before the Games, a lot of the attention focuses on whether London's busy transport system would be able to cope. Now, officials warned that up to 3 million extra journeys would take place every day, and that people not going to the Games, well, they should frankly stay away.
Well, five days in, we sent Phil Han on a trip from our CNN Bureau in central London to the Olympic Park here to see if things were really that bad. Have a look.
PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITIAL PRODUCER: I'm here at Oxford Circus station, normally one of the busiest Underground stations in central London, but I'm going to test out the Underground system and head over to Olympic Park. I've got my tickets here. And let's see just how good or how bad the transport system is holding up. Let''s head on in.
Well, it's been about 12 minutes since we left Oxford Circus, and we're here on the central line at Liverpool Street station. You've been traveling this line for a couple of days, now. How have you found it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I started traveling here on Monday, and it's very, very -- it gives access to the whole entire city. It's so useful. Out of the all the lines, I definitely use this one the most.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is very manageable. It should be much fuller, though, if you think about how many people are intending to come to London for the Olympics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's been quite good. There's not -- there haven't been many delays or any strikes. So, people can get from one place to another quite easily. Yes, I think that it's been quite good so far.
HAN: Well, that is the exit point for Stratford station. We're nearly at Olympic Park. We had to walk through a couple of underground tunnels to get to this point. But as you can see behind me, there's a pretty steady stream of people coming through the gates. And now, it's my turn to head down to the diving finals.
ANDERSON: We didn't get him a ticket, though, so he's sort of hanging around at the Tube station. Well, no, he's not, he's been up here. How's your journey to the Games been? Is London treating you well? If you're not here and watching from somewhere else, are you enjoying what you're seeing?
I want to hear from you. Tweet me @BeckyCNN, hash tag #cnnolympics, if you will. That's @BeckyCNN, hash tag #cnnolympics for all your Twitter users. And for the latest on Olympic action, of course, you can go to cnn.com/olympics.
Now, this time last night, we were all celebrating Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian of our generation, clinching his 19th medal, there were cheers all around. Until this morning, that is, when the London Organizing Committee head, Sebastian Coe, you heard from earlier in this show, said something rather controversial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN COE, CHAIRMAN, LONDON ORGANIZING COMMITTEE: I think you can probably say that clearly by self-evidently in medal tally, he's the most successful. I don't think, my personal view is, I'm not sure he's the greatest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right. Well, there you are. I put Seb on the spot and asked him who he thinks, then, is the greatest Olympian of all time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COE: If you pinned me on one particular name, because of the enormity of what he did, not just in his sport, but in an extraordinary Games in 1936, I think I'd probably settle for Jesse Owens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The great diver, Greg Louganis, with me and Linford Christie in the house, as well. We've been having this chat all day between us here at CNN and around the world, it seems to have really inspired a debate. Greg, who is the greatest Olympian of all time?
GREG LOUGANIS, US OLYMPIC DIVER: Well, my opinion -- Sergei Bupka. Sergei Bupka.
ANDERSON: Sergei Bupka? Why?
LOUGANIS: Speed, agility, strength. It was -- and the dominance that he had.
ANDERSON: This is, of course, the Ukrainian pole vaulter, six-time world champion, and Olympic gold medalist. Broke the record some 35 times in his career. Still holds the record, in fact, of 6.14 meters. One gold medal, you're calling him the greatest of all time? Give me a break.
ANDERSON: What do you think, Linford?
LINFORD CHRISTIE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's subjective, of course.
CHRISTIE: And I think this also should be done on how many competitors you've got in a race. There's certain events where not many countries participate. So, I'd have to go for Carl Lewis because he -- long jump, 100, 200, 4 by 1. It's phenomenal in -- to get out there in any sport.
ANDERSON: So, you think it's about the events, how many events you're competing in, how many people you're competing against, and how -- what, the longevity of your greatness? Do you think that counts, as well?
CHRISTIE: I think longevity, of course, counts. But we're talking about Olympics, so again, in -- track and field, your lifespan is very, very short. Steve Redgrave did five over five Olympics. It's impossible in our sport to do it. You've got to start at 15.
ANDERSON: Yes, sure, that was rowing, of course. And he was in a boat with other people. Just bringing up Greg Searle in the back of the British, coxed eight today. He last competed in 1992, I think I'm right in saying. Well, this guy's been around -- he retired for ten years before -- and he got a bronze today and was incredibly disappointed.
Let's have a look at the medal board for you guys while we're still at it. China out front. The US second. And things have changed for third place. We've got the South Koreans -- are you surprised by any of this, Greg, as you look at that medal table?
LOUGANIS: I'm not. In so many things, it's the world chasing China.
LOUGANIS: Even in --
ANDERSON: Complete economy.
LOUGANIS: In diving, most definitely.
LOUGANIS: Most definitely.
CHRISTIE: Well, I think what China did, they started concentrating on events that weren't so out there, and they started capturing a lot of medals. So, again, they got maybe -- is it a sixth or a seventh of the world's population, so you'd expect them to lead the way.
ANDERSON: Things will change as we get into track and field, of course, which is your great gig, as we move towards the weekend into next week. What one thing we should be watching out for in that, aside from Usain Bolt?
ANDERSON: Go on, tell us.
CHRISTIE: Well, I think the men's 400, of course, and the women's 400.
CHRISTIE: We've got some great athletes there. It's a chance for -- I'm going to be biased -- sprinters to go out there and -- we've got Christine Ohuruogu, who's the defending Olympic champion, and she's getting back to some sort of form. There's going to be a big clash.
ANDERSON: What are you watching for the next couple of days?
LOUGANIS: In diving, our goal was to get an athlete or a team on the podium, and we've got two.
LOUGANIS: So, we're ahead of the game. We're doing really well.
ANDERSON: Good, all right. Day six, a fierce rivalry will be reignited in the Velodrome, of course, guys, while 71-year-old Hiroshi Koketsu graces the dressage. It's a day for the veterans tomorrow. Watch out for that. We'll be back here.
Before we leave you tonight -- thank you, chaps -- your Parting Shots. Team GB rowing champion Heather Stanning -- or should I say Captain Heather Stanning -- was cheered on by her regiment in Afghanistan when she won the first gold medal earlier today for Team GB.
London's mayor Boris Johnson got himself into a bit of a situation when he tried to zip-line in one of London's fan zones. Take a look at this. The mayor got stuck 20 meters from the end of the line, then asking amused onlookers if they could hand him a rope and a ladder. Good old Boris.
I'm Becky Anderson with Greg and Linford tonight. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. Max back with the world news headlines after this short break.
ANDERSON: Don't go away.