Astonishing footage has emerged of Seven Network newsreaders Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor blasting embattled tennis star Novak Djokovic in an expletive-laden hot mike exchange.
The footage, leaked online late on Tuesday, shows Melbourne-based Maddern and Amor slamming the world No.1 as a “sneaky a—hole” and questioning whether he lied on travel documents.
“Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a—hole,” Maddern says.
“It’s unfortunate that everybody else stuffed up around him.
“To go out when you know you’re COVID-positive – well, I don’t think he was even COVID-positive …”
Amor also called Djokovic an “a—hole” and added: “You’ve got a bulls–t f—ing excuse and then he fell over his own f—ing lies, which is what happens, right? That’s what’s happened.”
Watch the full clip here (warning: Coarse language)
The federal government is investigating whether the tennis ace incorrectly completed his travel declaration forms on entry to Australia. Elsewhere, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still mulling whether to overturn Monday’s Federal Court ruling that allowed Djokovic to stay in the country, and cancel his visa.
Documents revealed in court showed the Serbian star answered “no” to questions on his Australian travel declaration forms about travelling internationally within the fortnight before landing in Melbourne.
However, the Monte Carlo-based player was photographed playing tennis in Serbia on Christmas Day, and training in Spain on January 2 – both within the 14-day window.
In the leaked footage, Maddern questions whether Djokovic lied on the forms, as Amor said “I think he’s going to get away with it”.
“Most fair-minded people would say, ‘The bloke’s an a—hole’. Did they do the right thing by him? I don’t know. They f—ed it up. That’s the problem, isn’t it?” he said.
Maddern is a recent recruit to Seven from Channel Nine, and in only her second week on air with co-host Amor.
She quit Nine last year after roles on The Footy Show, Ninja Warrior and Weekend Today. She is also a former anchor for some of the broadcaster’s Australian Open coverage.
A furious Seven Network hit back at the leak on Wednesday morning.
“The illegal recording was of a private conversation between two colleagues. It was an underhanded, cowardly act in breach of the Victorian Listening Devices legislation the perpetrator of which will be accordingly dealt with when found,” news and public affairs director Craig McPherson said.
Channel Seven managing director Lewis Martin said Maddern had apologised and the network was investigating the leak.
“There has been an illegal recording of a private conversation,” he told 3AW radio.
“It is something that is going to be looked at and is being looked at thoroughly.
“We are going to have an outcome. What has happened here is illegal.”
The explosive footage came as Nationals senator Matt Canavan called for calm over the Djokovic saga, and for Australians to move on as the Open approaches.
“[Djokovic] got COVID, he has natural immunity and is a low health risk but the decision was made and the court overturned it. I think we have to move on now and de-escalate it as much as possible,” Senator Canavan told the Nine Network on Wednesday.
“If he has said something wrong on his [immigration] form, OK, the law needs to apply there … [but] while I’ve never been a massive Novak fan, I thought he was honest and open through the interview process.”
Senator Canavan said tennis star must be treated like anyone else trying to enter the country, but immigration rules should be applied sensibly.
“He may have lied or made a mistake on the form. I am sure he is not the first person to tick the wrong box,” he said.
“I don’t want to live in a world of strict bureaucracy when if we make a mistake on a form we are hauled off to jail. If there’s been an error or a lie, he needs to be questioned again and see how or why that happened.”
Djokovic’s fate remains in Mr Hawke’s hands. If the Minister uses his discretionary powers to overrule the court, the Serbian could be banned from returning to Australia for three years.