THE chief health officer of the state of Victoria has warned that the T20 World Cup could be played behind closed doors.

Ireland are one of 16 teams due to compete in the tournament starting in October with the final scheduled for Melbourne on November 15.

Brett Sutton, in an interview with The Age, said that live sporting events could go ahead without spectators until next year and Australia’s borders remain closed until a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered.

The ICC have yet to make any announcement about a possible cancellation or postponement of the tournament – it is still six months away, after all – but they will undoubtedly take the advice of the host country’s government advice.

Andrew Balbirnie’s squad are based in Geelong, 50 miles to the south of the state capital, Melbourne, for the first three matches and some supporters will have already made provisional bookings for flights and accommodation.

However Professor Sutton’s comments are an early warning that if the event does go ahead, then he is not guaranteeing spectator involvement, saying that Victorians must expect a gradual peeling-off of layers of restrictions.

“It might be three or four or five or six layers peeled off over some months,” he said. “There’ll be something in place that constrains us until there is a vaccine.

Even more ominously, he added: “International travel coming back, I think that’s the thing that is going to be constrained for a long time.”

It is the first indication that the tournament might not take place because ICC will need certainty, months before the event begins, that the 15 visiting teams can actually get into the country before they continue their work on all the logistics that go into organising a smooth global tournament.

For now, Ireland preparations include a three-match T20-series against New Zealand in Bready in June and two T20 internationals against Pakistan at Malahide in July in their schedule for this summer but both remain in serious doubt.

Ireland have been drawn in Group A in the preliminary stage of the World Cup with games against Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Oman at two intervals from October 18-22.