this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. huge crowds attend friday prayers at hagia sophia in istanbul — the first time the site has been used as a mosque in more than 80 years. but many outside turkey are critical. britain's prime minister boris johnson says that his government didn't understand coronavirus at the start of the pandemic and could have handled things differently. the single thing that we did not see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person. that wasn't clear. beijing orders the closure of the us consulate in chengdu — and blames washington
for escalating tensions. a court verdict that could set a precedent for hundreds of pro—democracy activists in hong kong. a couple has been found not guilty of rioting during last year's protests. and also coming up. the two friends who kept a 20—year—old pledge to share a big lottery win. time since turkish authorities ruled that it could be re—converted into a mosque. the 1,500—year—old unesco world heritage site was originally built as an orthodox cathedral. it was then converted to a mosque in the middle ages, and became a museum in 193a. its return to a mosque hasn't been without controversy —
as paul adams reports. a vast crowd to witness a new chapter in hagia sophia's 1500 year history. this grand cathedral turned mosque turned museum once again a place of muslim worship. for older conservative turks, a moment of huge national and religious pride. translation: our 86 years of longing ends today. we have been waiting for the opening of hagia sophia for a long time and thanks to our president and the court decision today we are going to perform friday prayers at hagia sophia. translation: we are witnessing history today, the day hagia sophia returns to its origin. a moment of triumph too for turkey's president, a day to put other concerns of a fragile economy and political challenges and the effects of coronavirus to one side. his supporters compare him to the sultan who captured
constantinople in 1163 and claimed this byzantine cathedral for islam. for the president's critics, it is all part of a worrying trend. this is a symbolic act of reversing the turn towards the west and secularism and establishing the fact that turkey defends the right of islam as much as it defends its own national rights. inside, 500 invited guests attended prayers in a vast space revered by muslims and christians alike. the pope has called this moment painful, but mr erdogan says christians have nothing to fear, hagia sophia will remain open to all. byzantine mosaics depicting jesus and the virgin mary will be covered, but only during prayers. in an address full of references to the country's ottoman glories,
turkey's top muslim cleric said a long period of national heartbreak had come to an end. but away from the mosque, not everyone was celebrating. some see the president's move as needlessly provocative. translation: i think it would be much better if it remained as a museum. yes, we are muslims, we need mosques in turkey. if they want to use it as a mosque it is fine, but there is no need to argue with the whole world. this was a day for president erdogan to savour but for all the sense of triumph, today's move does little to foster unity in a country full of divisions. the british prime minister, boris johnson, has admitted that his government didn't understand coronavirus in the "first few weeks and months", acknowledging that there were things that "could have been done differently" in handling the virus. there have been more than 16,000 deaths in the uk, behind only the us and brazil. in an interview with our political editor laura kuenssberg,
borisjohnson also said there are "very open questions" over whether the uk's lockdown in march came too late. what have you got wrong so that you get it right next time? i think when you look back at this crisis everybody can see that this was something that was new that we did not understand in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months, and i think probably the single thing that we did not see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted a symptomatically from person to person. that was not clear to us or to anybody. but i am, i have to tell you it will be plenty of time, by the way to look back at all the other things that we need to learn and an occasion to do that, but i'm very proud of many of the things that people
in our public services did, that members of the public did to deal with coronavirus whether it was making sure that we protected the nhs and having usable preparations and so on. many things were cheaper but you are seeing the response was too slow because the disease was not understood? is fair to say there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages. i mentioned one thing in particular, but i think what people really want to focus on now is what are we doing to prepare for the next phase? but people also want to know what happened though. this is in the past, laura. people want to know what happen, hindsight is notjust a wonderful thing it's also a useful thing. people want to know what happened. 45,000 people died who have tested positive. what do you think the mistakes were? it's right to knowledge them in
order that they don't happen again. of course. you know we mourn every one of those who lost their lives, and our thoughts are very much with theirfamilies, and i take full responsibility for everything that government did. there will be plenty of opportunities to learn the lessons of what happened. but the best way to honour the term of those who lost their lives, the victims and their families is you keep talking about this in the past, laura and we must now have a look back, actually we need to make sure that we are prepared for the future. and isn't that precisely why it is right to be honest about what happened was it very well be a resurgence. isn't that precisely why now is the time to be honest about what happened and what went wrong?
so that people can be confident that it won't happen the next time? and do you regret now that lockdown happened when it did? many people believe it might have been too late, you admit it but did not know how much of the disease had already transmitted. you are trying to come if i may say so, to run a kind of inquiry into what happened in the past. i'm not quite trying to run an inquiry uptrend trying to acknowledge what you got wrong. listen to the scientist. the questions you have just asked are very open question of far as they are concerned. there will be a time of the sea together all of those issues. let's look at some of the day's other news dozens of journalists at hungary's leading independent news website, index, have resigned, claiming that the government is attempting to destroy their site. it comes after the firm's board rejected their request to restore the editor in chief, sobbolch dool, to his position. he was sacked on tuesday — a decision he believes was related
to his warnings of outside interference in the website's operations. formula one has scrapped this season's races in the united states, canada, mexico and brazil because of the pandemic. the organisers believe it would be irresponsible to go ahead with the events, as infection rates in the americas remain high. three grand prixs have instead been added to the calendar in europe. vietnam has banned the importation of wildlife and wildlife products to reduce the risk of new pandemics. it says it will also enforce a ban on illegal markets for such items, including online sales. vietnam has previously been accused of turning a blind eye to the trade in products such as tiger parts and rhino horns which are often used in traditional medicine. the diplomatic row between china and the us shows no sign of easing. in the latest tit—for—tat move,
china has ordered the closure of the american consulate in the city of chengdu. beijing said us personnel had interfered in china's affairs. it follows washington's decision to shut down a chinese consulate in texas. the us has accused china of spying and theft of intellectual property. i've been speaking to scott kennedy, a china expert with the washington—based centre for strategic and international studies. he says he's surprised by how quickly the situation is escalating. definitely the tensions in the relationship. i think there is worse as they ever been, i can think of a time that they have been this horrible. monday i would not have been able to tell you i could see a full rupture in the relationship but on tuesday following the us announcement about the consulate in houston i can see that. i can really see the path to that
and so this is really troubling for the relationship and for everyone else involved. both sides are to blame, don't see an easy path out of this any time soon. you're describing a really, really quick escalation there. just a day that changed your perception. what is behind this rapid escalation or deterioration of the relationship? certainly you have two nationalist governments in washington and beijing. very protective of their sovereignty, very concerned about the other. and both have taken steps to not make the other feel much more concerned. in addition to that you got what you already mentioned. the trade war in washington, the fear of china's technological ascendance, the behaviour during the pandemic and then i think you also see the shift and election strategy for the trump administration to shift blame of the pandemic to china and paint trump as tougher than biden.
there's a sense among hawks within the trump administration that they need to hurry up and roll out a lot of harsh measures on china because trump may lose the election and biden would not necessarily pursue a less hawkish approach but he might be more disciplined, and so i think all of those things are working to see this escalation and pace of actions against china. and what do you see is the way out of this? you have the benefit of travelling to china and written about this relationship extensively. what is the exit ramp? i don't see it from here but it has to involve some recognition from both sides that they are contributing to this. and a sense that the relationship, if it is maintained in trade and benefits their core national interests so that would require both sides addressing issues of climate change together, global public health issues together as in their common interests
and that trade would reinforce those benefits, and that they can mitigate the risks. and come up with ways to do so. right now neither side is interested in trying to provide the type of reassurance to the other and it mayjust be that we see what happens in american politics and see if there's a chance for a reset after the elections here at the end of the year. that was scott kennedy for the centre for strategic and international studies. a court in hong kong has found a couple not guilty of rioting during last year's pro—democracy protests. the ruling is being seen by some as a precedent that could mean hundreds of others avoid jail time too. last year saw many months of massive and sometimes violent demonstrations in hong kong. since then, china has passed sweeping and controversial new national security laws in the territory. reged ahmad reports.
elaine to and henry tong standing outside a hong kong court, their hands are raised as supporters shout pro democracy slogans. the couple have just been found not guilty of rioting during last year public protest. they were charged along with hundreds of others and faced seven years in prison. but now they are free. i was crying because a lot of people were crying, and itjust made me feel, it's a relief to hear that we are acquitted. henry and elaine insist they were only providing first aid to people being tear gassed during one of the huge pro—democracy protests in july 2019. they said they did not go near the front lines or act violently. the court believed them. saying there was no evidence the pair were involved. the couple own a gym in hong kong and before the trial they were preparing for the worst.
henry even made a photo book for elaine so they could remember each other should they be separated by a lengthy prison sentence. the couple were married last year just days after being released from their first stint in jail. what was meant to be a small affair due to online threats instead saw dozens of family and friends show up. henry and elaine can now get on with their lives, but the couple say they won't celebrate while others are still waiting to be tried. translation: we hope what we have been through can give them a little courage. can let them know that they are not walking alone. since last year's protests in hong kong, china has introduced a new national security laws which have some worried about the implications for trials like this. but others are hoping this not guilty verdict will set a precedent
for many others facing the same charge. reged ahmad, bbc news. stay with us on bbc world news, still to come. took 0lympics postponed by the pandemic but how certain is it that the games will take place this time next year? 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's been painstakingly rebuilt and opens again today.
there's been a 50% decrease in spurn quantity, and an increase in malfunctioning spurn unable to swim properly. thousands of households across the country are suspiciously quiet this lunch time, as children bury their noses in the final instalment of harry potter. this is bbc news, the latest headlines. friday prayers have returned to istanbul's iconic hagia sophia — for the first time since the museum was turned back into a mosque. britain's prime minister boris johnson admits the government didn't understand coronavirus at the start of the pandemic and could have handled things differently.
iraq's health system has been worn down by years of war and poor investment — and now it's being overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections, which were up by 600% last month. fighters from the armed popular mobilisation units, which were formed to fight is, are now being mobilised to bury baghdad's dead, in a new cemetery in the desert at najjaf. reda el mawy reports. 0n the cusp of life and death. like many iraqis, jameela has endured much in her lifetime. her son has been by her side for the last ten days. he is risking his own life to care for her. and he will stay until she recovers, or until she passes. in this battle, the doctors are heavily outnumbered.
now he drives bodies to the cemetery. none of the usual burial sites accept the bodies of covid—i9 patients, so he drives the bodies to the desert south of the capital, where a vast new city for the dead has risen from the sand. all 3000 graves are for victims of the virus. sadly, jameela, who we filmed with her son a few days ago, did not survive. workers try their best to provide some dignity in death. the government has been overwhelmed. it has turned to groups who fought so—called
islamic state to bury the dead. iraqis are used to conflict, and this fight will get worse before it gets better. reda el mawy, bbc news. if all had been normal — many of us would be enjoying the thrill of the start of the tokyo 0lympics this week. instead — because of the pandemic, the games have been postponed till this time next year. in the meantime, enthusiasm for hosting the olympics in the city has waned. some people are wondering whether they will even take place at all. from tokyo rupert wingfield hayes reports. tetsuya sotomura is one of japan's best trampolinists. at beijing in 2008, hejust
missed out on a medal. now, at 35, tokyo 2020 was going to be his last hurrah. but covid—i9 has killed his dream. "back in 2008, if the beijing games had been postponed by a year, i would have thought, 0k," he says. "it's another year to train, another year to grow. but now i'm 35, a year feels like a very long time, so i've decided retirement is the only option." there is another reason tetsuya is retiring. he thinks tokyo's new 0lympic stadium may never get to hold an olympic opening ceremony. and he's not alone. a poll this week found only 23% of japanese support holding the games, even next year. by now, the buildings around me here should have been bustling with thousands of athletes from all over the world getting ready to compete against each other.
of course, because of covid—i9, they're not here. this place remains a ghost town. but will it be any different a year from now? if covid—i9 is still circulating widely, if there isn't a vaccine, then how will it be possible to host an 0lympics here in tokyo safely? from brazil to india, south africa to the united states, covid infections are accelerating. medical experts here think there is little chance the pandemic will be over by next summer. if a very effective vaccine became available, that could be a game changer. even with the lessening of the spread of the illness thanks to vaccinations, still it is more likely that the viral illness or pandemic will continue by the year 2021. the olympics is supposed to be about bringing the world together,
but could tokyo be held without foreign spectators? senior 0lympic officials say absolutely not. they have to decide, do they want the games to go ahead or are the risks too severe to countenance it? in which case, i thinkjapan would probably propose, and the ioc would probably accept, a cancellation. last night, inside the olympic stadium, they reset the countdown clock. one year until the opening ceremony. maybe. rupert wingfield—hayes, bbc news, in tokyo. long—time friends joe feeney and tom cook who live in the us state of wisconsin, made a pact many years ago — that if one of them won the us powerball lottery they would share it. and now, decades later, tom's numbers came up and he's honoured the deal. joe — who you can see here in the blue shirt with tom and their wives —
said he was stunned when his friend called to say they were sharing the jackpot worth 22 million us dollars. let's hear what they plan to do with the money and how the pact came about. whatever the big winner comes we are going to split it, so we buy every week and, you know, not really thinking it would happen. that happened many years ago. interests continued. a handshake is a handshake. i can't think of a better winner to do it. i won the powerball the next day. what can i lose? a few bucks. a reminder of our top story. the turkish president recep tayyip erdogan has pledged that the hagia sophia mosque in istanbul will remain open to all believers — after attending the first friday prayers there for 86 years. a court this month ruled that it had been unlawful to turn the building into a museum
in nineteen— thirty— four. hello. much of the uk got away with a fine friday but it wouldn't be the weekend without low pressure close by the uk, so, just as we have seen today with the weekend, there will be a few sunny spells around, but there will also be a bit of rain because here is the low pressure, it is already turning wetter across western parts of the uk and that rain pushes eastwards overnight and then showers of the weekend. so, some heavier bursts of random places of the go through the night, particularly in parts of scotland and northern england in the night. we will keep a good deal of cloud even from those areas where we see the rain clear and temperatures not going down too fast, a rather warm and humid night to come. so, into tomorrow, a lot of cloud for the morning, still some heavier bursts of rain, parts of northern england and scotland, many of us will brighten up as the day goes on, but there will be further showers breaking out and some of these could be heavy and thundery and these are bound to the east
and southeast of england, which may merge for longer spells of rain. and as for those temperatures most of us into the high teens, a fewjust into the low 20s. blustery day, particularly around some showers and there will be some wet weather with the test match day too at old trafford. not necessarily though raining the whole time. hello. wet weather with the test match day too at old trafford. not necessarily though raining the whole time. it will be a breezier day as well, but if you're venturing out on saturday evening, still some these downpours to the southeast and also a few more arriving on western parts as well and going into the morning, still a chance of a few showers on sunday begins but some early bursts of sunshine around as well and they will be a bit cooler
for the start of part two of the weekend and we will still have low pressure close by scotland, rain to its northwest and quite windy, blustery as well as showers into the northwest, some will track a bit further east as you go to the day, but not many of them falling into the southeast of england. these average wind speeds, gusts a bit higher it's 30 and a0 mph in some spots and temperatures, if anything, some days looking bit cooler for many of us. i will leave you with this thought that a year ago tomorrow, temperatures reached the highest on record in the uk, near 39 celsius. no one's saying that is an aspiration, just pointing out it is so very different from what we are having at the moment and it does look quite cool as go into the new week. initially, some wet weather, but it will turn drier and warmer for a time later in the week.
this is bbc world news. the headlines: the turkish president recep tayyip erdogan says 350,000 people filled hagia sophia and the surrounding streets for the first friday prayers since the building was converted back into a mosque. in an exclusive interview with the bbc — britain's prime minister borisjohnson has admitted the government didn't understand coronavirus at the start of the pandemic and could have handled things differently. beijing has orderd the closure of the us consulate in the city of chengdu, just hours after the american secretary of state said that washington was hardening its stance