A Chinese whistleblower has made the bombshell claim that the Covid pandemic could have emerged in Wuhan months before the first outbreak was officially reported.
Chinese authorities confirmed the first cases were identified in Wuhan in mid-December 2019, with that information being released to the public weeks later.
But defector and democracy campaigner Wei Jingsheng made a stunning accusation in Sky News' new documentary, What Really Happened In Wuhan, telling reporter Sharri Markson – who has also penned a book by the same name – that he believed the first Covid superspreader event could have occurred as early as October.
Futher, he suggested it may have been intentional.
The World Military Games – likened to the Olympic Games for military athletes – were held in Wuhan from October 19-27, 2019.
The offical state-run news agency reported at the time that New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Britain were not member nations of the International Military Sports Council, but mayors from these countiries sent messages of support for the event.
"This competition is a fantastic way to promote peace and conviviality between nations," said Lianne Dalziel, mayor of Christchurch, adding that sport has the power to break down barriers and bring about positive social change.
"We in Christchurch will be following the CISM World Games with interest. We wish Wuhan a successful hosting of the event and wish all competitors an enjoyable time in our wonderful sister city," she said.
More than 9000 athletes from at least 100 countries across the globe attended – and soon after, reports emerged that some had fallen ill from a mystery sickness.
David Asher, former Covid-19 investigator for the US State Department, told Markson the situation was "suspicious".
"We do see some indications in our own data that there was Covid circulating in the United States as early as early December, possibly earlier than that," he said.
"Some of the people who came back from these Games were sick with something."
Miles Yu, the former principal China adviser to the US State Department, said athletes from France, Germany and the US were among those who had fallen ill after the Games.
He said the symptoms were very similar to what would later be known as common Covid-19 symptoms, which "obviously deserved investigation".
However, the athletes were never tested – but high-profile Chinese defector and Jingsheng told Markson that by that stage, he already knew something was very wrong in Wuhan, based on intelligence he had received as a former Chinese Communist Party insider.
"I thought that the Chinese government would take this opportunity to spread the virus during the Military Games, as many foreigners would show up there," he said.
That explosive allegation implies that not only were Chinese authorities already aware of the growing pandemic but, according to Wei, it may have been allowed to spread on purpose.
"I learned there was an unusual exercise by the Chinese government during the Military Games," Wei continued, adding that he told his close friend and human rights activist Dimon Liu about his fears "of the possibility of the Chinese government using some strange weapons, including biological weapons, because I knew they were doing experiments of that sort".
He claims he also told US authorities and one high-ranking politician of the escalating pandemic in October, but that his warning fell on deaf ears.
It's just one of a string of examples highlighted by the documentary, which throws the official version of events when it comes to Covid into question.
The documentary also questioned the role the Wuhan Institute of Virology may have played in the global catastrophe.
The institute was originally built by the French and included a co-operation agreement that guaranteed French and Chinese scientists would work together on virological research – but by late 2014, the French had been all but excluded.
Former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, told Markson that some believe that exclusion suggests a potential link to "biological warfare" research – but according to Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, head of endrocrinology at Flinders University, one thing we can be certain of is that the institute is now "one of the world's leading repositor[ies] of coronaviruses".
Petrovsky said Covid-19's link to bats was probably not in question, but that scientists were desperate to uncover how it had morphed to be so "unique" and well-adapted to humans.
According to the documentary, the institute's research is headed by Dr Shi Zhengli – a top Chinese virologist specialising in bat viruses who has been dubbed "bat woman".
In 2012, six Chinese miners fell ill with a mysterious coronavirus after clearing bat manure from a disused mine, with three later dying from the illness, and Zhengli has apparently been studying it – which Beijing "covered up" – ever since.
Hundreds of samples from bats in that cave and others have since been taken to the Wuhan lab, with researchers devoting their careers to studying bat viruses.
Once the Wuhan Institute of Virology began looking into its catalogue of coronaviruses after the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists claimed to have found RaTG13 – extracted from bats in those caves – which is 96.2 per cent identical to the virus that causes Covid-19, making it Covid-19's closest genetic relative.
"The natural question is, did they find Covid-19 on one of those trips and if so why haven't they told us about it – or did they manipulate RaTG13 or one of the other coronavirus they found in this cave and they created Covid-19?" Petrovsky said.
"And of course that always raises the question, how far did they push the boundaries? What research were they doing?"