Beijing's struggle to keep the Olympics COVID free
COVID-19 positive cases leading up to the Beijing Olympics, a proposed defense pact between Ukraine, Poland, and the UK, and the Joe Rogan/Spotify scandal -- Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.
First, how is COVID-19 affecting Beijing Olympics prep in China?
Well, we've got already well over a hundred members of Olympic athletes and staff that have tested positive twice, which means they ain't playing. They're not involved. They're going to go home. And these numbers are going to go way up. I do think that this idea of a complete closed loop system, the Chinese have more ability to implement and execute on that than pretty much any country in the world. So I doubt you're going to see spread from the Olympics into the broader population, but you're going to see a lot of people with COVID coming in because omicron is so incredibly spreadable. And that's going to be yet one more thing that dings a very weird Beijing Olympics with diplomatic boycotts and populations unhappy about where we are and not having fans and all the political challenges and censorship and surveillance of phones and data going to the government. And it's just so politicized that you hate to see that with global athletes, and global athletics, but that's where we are. I do say that I'm glad that the athletes are still competing. It's one of the few things that can bring us all together on this planet.
What's the update with the Russia-Ukraine crisis?
Well, the interesting thing that came out is this early stage announcement that there's a defense pact going to come between Poland, the UK and Ukraine. I understand Poland, because Poland of course sees themself as frontline, most vulnerable to the Russians, and if the Ukrainians go, what happens to us? But in the case of the UK, either there's not much to this and we'll see that it's not really a defense pact, or there is something to it, and it's a complete desperation move by Boris Johnson, who is in his last sort of gasp as prime minister, having screwed up just about everything over the last few months, get caught in lies and getting whacked by his own party members. Former PM Theresa May just took a chunk out of his hide yesterday and was applauded roundly. We'll see. If they actually are saying that they would come to Ukraine's defense if there were any Russian incursion, there's no way that was brought up with the Americans in advance. The US would not have approved that. And I think the UK's going to come in for great criticism. But watch very carefully what comes out here, okay.
Finally, Joe Rogan and Spotify, who's right, who's wrong?
It's a tough situation in the sense that he's a pretty controversial character and he's had some people online that spout lots of information that's not really good. But he does try to bring on people from all different political walks of life, some of whom I like, some of whom I think are kind of fringe and wacko. I do think you have more responsibility about the fringe people when you have that kind of an audience, because it does actually have a real impact. But I also take Joe Rogan on board when he says that there were a lot of things that used to be described as disinformation and you could be de platformed for it, and that's no longer the case. In the case of wearing masks, I mean, that's because we needed those masks for frontline workers. I understand why it was messaged the way it was at the time was for the best in terms of public safety. When it comes to denials and literally calling out as fake news the idea that COVID came from a lab in Wuhan, not intentionally, but escaped from it, I mean that honestly was misinformation and it was covering up from scientists and doctors that have done their field a disservice and have undermined themselves. And I do worry about that and I'm glad that Rogan mentioned it. So look, I don't think a lot of people are going to change their mind on Rogan on the base of this, but I will say that he's not going anywhere. And if you're his fan, you're probably still his fan and he's going to keep on keeping on for Spotify.