Expats know that Costa Rican officias are taking the general election seriously when they prohibit soccer games the Saturday before and the Sunday that is election day Feb. 2. Soccer is sacred, but the democratic process even trumps the sacred in Costa Rica.
As is usually the case, the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones also has outlawed events that attract crowds. The ruling also covers concerts and other organized activities. The idea is to keep the streets clear so voters can go to the polls.
The Tribunal announcement said that 31 different sports federations have been notified of the restrictions as well as the 81 cantons and various government agencies that might be putting on activities like the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.
There also will not be any political street rallies. The Tribunal prohibits such activities starting Monday through the Sunday election. But political parties usually have the right to set up tents and informational booths outside the individual voting locations as voters go to the polls.
The Tribunal also outlaws publicity and the publication of opinion poll results starting Thursday until the Tribunal itself has met Sunday night after the voting.
All the restrictions will be in force again the first week in April if the presidential elections have to go to a second round. That voting date is April 6.
Some expats might find it a relief not to have campaign ads on television Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The prohibition prevents sneaky last minute emotional appeals which the opposing candidates do not have the time to counter.
The prohibition on poll results even extends to mock votes held for children as well as exit polls on election day.
This year the Tribunal said that the prohibitions extend to the Internet and to social networks.