With Vilnius off, IPhO 2020 reemerges as distributed olympiad

Instead of the IPhO 2020 that was supposed to take place this summer in Vilnius, Lithuania, MIPT will be organizing the 2020 International distributed Physics Olympiad Dec. 7-15. Countries are welcome to create national teams and register for the olympiad before Nov. 8.

The cancellation of IPhO 2020 in Vilnius meant that the national teams originally intending to participate would largely be unable to do so next year, as the rules of the contest only admit school students. This is why MIPT decided to hold the competition in 2020, securing the support of the IPhO president. The reinvented contest will be open to teams of five school students or university undergraduates representing a certain country. This event is expected to connect students and experienced professors from all over the world, with applications already submitted from Europe, Central and Southern Asia, and Latin America.

The distributed version of the olympiad will traditionally feature a theoretical and an experimental stage held on two separate days. MIPT pays special attention to monitoring — it has a special network of observers who will distribute and collect the tasks and check rule compliance. MIPT alumni and diplomatic mission officers are invited to cooperate, as the event is endorsed by the Russian government. This support also means that the IdPhO — “d” for distributed — will be entirely free from registration fees.

Participating in the olympiad means joining the international dialogue on physics and exchanging experience. The tasks are prepared by well-known professors and olympiad experts from various countries. Distributed across 13 time zones, the competition will begin at 3-4 p.m. in the easternmost countries and at 8-9 a.m. for the westernmost nations; all times local. This means the last country to enter one of the two contest stages will do so before the first team completes that stage.

“It is a great honor for us to organize a major event of that caliber,” commented one of the IdPhO organizers, MIPT Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Artem Voronov. “Naturally, remote participation does introduce certain complications as far as organizing the event goes, but this is not the first competition held by the University in that format. One example is the Phystech.International olympiad, which we hold in a distributed mode under the auspices of Rossotrudnichestvo.”

“It’s been a tough year by any measure, and after the 2020 IPhO in Vilnius did not happen, many school students lost any hope they would have a chance to participate — and they had been training day and night” said MIPT Associate Professor Mikhail Osin, who is also involved in organizing the event. “All we expect the participating countries to do is to assemble teams of five school students or undergrads who are into physics, and arrange a small venue where they could work. As the pandemic is still raging, nothing is 100% certain — even next year’s in-person competition in Vilnius. This makes the distributed olympiad an excellent opportunity for the contestants to shine.”


The language of the event is English, but the organizing committee plans to commission problem translations into many languages.

Official site – https://i20.mipt.ru

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