BANGKOK: Thai authorities on Saturday warned Pokemon Go players against entering polling stations as they search for the cyber creatures when the nation votes on a controversial junta-crafted constitution.
The Southeast Asian nation heads to the polls on Sunday for the first time since generals toppled a democratically elected government in 2014.
Voters are being asked whether to accept or reject the military’s new constitution although the military have banned open debate ahead of the plebiscite.
The ruling junta has touted the document as the solution to the kingdom’s decade-long political crisis.
But critics have derided it as a thinly veiled attempt by the military to perpetuate their hold over democracy.
Pokemon Go was made available in Thailand on Saturday alongside 14 other nations in Asia and the Pacific, delighting fans in a country where Japanese subcultures have a significant following.
Election officials now fear fans might stumble into polling booths as they feverishly search for Pokemons.
“I suggest to people who play Pokemon Go that if rare Pokemon appear in a polling stations, I ask for your cooperation in not playing the game,” Supachai Somcharoen, chairman of the Election Commission, told reporters in his last press briefing ahead of Sunday’s vote.
Since its global launch, Pokemon Go has sparked a worldwide frenzy among users who have taken to the streets with their smartphones.
The viral game uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.
While it has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors, it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas, or becoming victims of crimes.
Some more autocratic governments, such as Iran, have even banned the game altogether.
Members of the public are forbidden from taking photos inside Thai polling stations which are only open to locally registered voters.
Debate has also been severely curtailed ahead of the vote with the junta effectively banning campaigning, political rallies and open debate of the charter.