Channel 7 Melbourne newsreaders Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern ripped into Novak Djokovic in an off-camera exchange that has been leaked on line, going viral globally.
In a break from on air duties the pair were discussing Djokovic’s visa victory.
“Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, arsehole,” Maddern told her Amor. “It’s unfortunate that everybody else stuffed up around him.”
Djokovic has said he tested positive to COVIO on December 16, drawing criticism for being out at events involving children, and not wearing a mask, in the following few days.
“To go out when you know you’re COVID positive — well, I don’t think he was even COVID positive,” said Maddern.
Amor also called Djokovic an “arsehole” adding, “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.”
Maddern questioned whether Djokovic had lied about his recent travel movements on his Australian Travel Declaration form while Amor added: “I think he’s going to get away with it”.
“I think most fair-minded people would say, ‘The bloke’s an arsehole’. Did they do the right thing by him? I don’t know. They f***ed it up. That’s the problem isn’t it.”
Maddern said she didn’t think “anything was gained from putting him in immigration hotels”.
“The fact is life is never fair. Some people fly first class … it’s never fair,” she added.
Seven Network Director of News and Public Affairs, Craig McPherson, said in a statement: “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.”
Channel 7 managing director Lewis Martin told 3AW radio that Maddern had apologised and the network was investigating who was behind the leak.
“There has been an illegal recording of a private conversation,” he said. “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.”
Djokovic was formally named Australian Open top seed as the Australian government continues to mull over whether to again revoke his visa.
It was business as usual for Djokovic on Tuesday as he returned to Rod Laver Arena for a closed practice session, having dashed to Melbourne Park’s centre court for a midnight hit after being freed from immigration detention on Monday afternoon.
The nine-time champion was kept away from the media as he took to the court he’s owned since winning his first title in 2008, desperate to make up for his days locked in a hotel room after his visa cancellation last Thursday morning.
Despite a win in court on Monday, the Serbian superstar still faces the prospect of deportation, with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke retaining the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
A decision is not expected before Wednesday, though, after Hawke’s office issued a statement saying the matter was still being determined.
“In line with due process, Minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter,” a representative said on Tuesday afternoon.
As Tennis Australia released its Open seedings on Tuesday night, with Djokovic heading the men’s event and home hope Ash Barty the women’s, fresh questions have been raised over Djokovic’s application and his travel prior to entering Australia.
The decision to allow the 20-time grand slam champion to contest the Open won support from the peak men’s tennis body, who described the situation as “damaging on all fronts”.
The ATP issued a statement on Tuesday that welcomed the court ruling quashing the decision to block Djokovic’s entry into Australia.
“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations,” the ATP said.
“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”
The ATP also called for greater clarity over the rules.
“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,” it said.
“Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules.”
The ATP also urged all of its male players to get vaccinated, with 97 per cent of the top 100 already jabbed.
In winning the case, Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Monday said Djokovic was given insufficient time to speak to Tennis Australia officials and to lawyers to respond to being told of the intent to cancel his visa.
After dashing to Melbourne Park upon his release, the world No.1 tweeted a photograph of himself and his team on Rod Laver Arena.
“I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation,” he posted.
“Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen. I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.
“For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”
His family gave a press conference in Serbia during which his mother, according to the BBC translator, said her son “was subjected to torture, to harassment. We will hear even more about what he has gone through”.
Dijana Djokovic also said: “This is his biggest win in his career, it is bigger than any grand slams.”
Brother Djordje Djokovic said: “He went to Australia to play tennis, to try and win the Open and win the record he has been chasing for so many years.”
“We love Australia, Novak loves Australia, he’s won it so many times, we will keep on coming back”.
Meanwhile, frustrated former world No.1 Andy Murray wants Djokovic to come clean over his whereabouts in the days after he tested positive to COVID-19 last month.
After being placed in a Melbourne detention hotel last week, Djokovic was freed on Monday after his legal team had the Federal Circuit Court’s decision to cancel his visa overturned.
Djokovic received an exemption to bypass hotel quarantine to defend his Australian Open crown on the basis he had tested positive to COVID-19 on December 16.
But photos have since emerged of the Serb, who admitted to immigration authorities that he wasn’t vaccinated, attending various functions after he claimed to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Concerns have also been raised that the Monte Carlo-based world No.1 may have misled Australian Border Force officials by not declaring he was in Serbia and Spain in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia.
Murray, who has lost to the 34-year-old in four Australian Open finals, says it’s crucial that Djokovic opens up about his movements in the days following his positive diagnosis.
“It’s a positive that he’s not in detention anymore. He won in court so that’s a positive thing for him,” Murray said when asked by AAP on Tuesday night.
“Hopefully we will be able to concentrate on the tennis now,” he added after beating Norway’s Viktor Durasovic 6-3 6-1 in the first round of the Sydney Tennis Classic for his drought-breaking first win Down Under since 2019.
“There are still a few questions that need to be answered about the isolation and stuff, which I’m sure we’ll hear from him in the next few days.
“I am obviously here to try and play and win tournaments. It’s the first match I’ve won here (in Australia) in over three years.
“This is where situations like this are frustrating for players because I want to come off and talk about my tennis and not talk about situations like that.
“I’m hoping we can move on from it now. It looks like he’s going to be able to play and compete in the Australian Open.
“We do want the best players there but I think there are a few questions to be answered. Until that happens, it’s tough to give a definitive opinion.
“I’m sure he will. It’s up to the press to ask about that and for Novak to clarify. Let’s wait to see what he says about that.”