Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a weekly series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.
Rumors about the North Korean leader’s health, nations seeking to reopen their economies amid the pandemic, the fourth Israeli airstrike in Syria in less than a month, effects of the oil price crash in the Middle East and uncertainty surrounding the Olympic Games make up this week’s five international stories.
South Korea’s government has dismissed rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in fragile condition, as speculation about his health intensifies amid the North’s silence on his whereabouts. There are concerns in Seoul and Washington, about what would happen to North Korea and its nuclear program if anything had actually happened to Kim. Kim’s absence would mean the departure of a man they’ve dealt with to try to achieve denuclearization.
Read more: North Korea
In Europe and some U.S. states, shutdowns are being eased piecemeal, with governments charting their own path to reopen for business without triggering a second wave of infections. The official death toll topped 200,000 worldwide, with about 3 million confirmed infections, but the true toll is believed to be much higher, because of inadequate testing, differences in counting the dead and efforts by some governments to conceal the extent of their outbreaks.
Read more: Virus outbreak
Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near Damascus early Monday, killing three civilians and four Iran-backed fighters. The Syrian military said its air defenses shot down some of the missiles in the attack, which happened around dawn. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missiles hit positions belonging to Iran and its regional proxies. The airstrike is the fourth in Syria in less than a month
Read more: Syria
The historic crash in oil prices in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is reverberating across the Middle East as countries scramble to offset losses from a key source of state revenue, at a time when several of them already face explosive social unrest. Some Gulf countries can rely on foreign currency reserves, but the circumstances are more dire in Iraq, where oil sales fund 90 percent of the state budget and its economy is expected to contract by 5 percent this year.
Read more: Middle East
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed a month ago, but there are still more questions than answers about the new opening on July 23, 2021, and what form those games will take — whether the games will actually take place, if fans will be in attendance, if they can open without a vaccine, how much pressure will TV broadcasters and sponsors, which provide 91 percent of the income for the International Olympic Committee, exert on the games and more.
Read more: Olympic Games