International Physics Olympiad

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The International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) is an annual physics competition for high school students. It is one of the International Science Olympiads. The first IPhO was held in Warsaw, Poland in 1967.

Each national delegation is made up of at most five student competitors plus two leaders, selected on a national level. Observers may also accompany a national team. The students compete as individuals, and must sit for intensive theoretical and laboratory examinations. For their efforts the students can be awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals or an honourable mention.

The theoretical examination lasts 5 hours and consists of three questions. Usually these questions involve more than one part. The practical examination may consist of one laboratory examination of five hours, or two, which together take up the full five hours.


Students at the opening ceremony of the 2018 IPhO in Portugal
Singaporean IPhO team with the current IPhO president Rajdeep Singh Rawat

Several months before the first IPhO took place in 1967, invitations were sent to all the Central European countries. The invitations were accepted by Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania (five countries including Poland, the organiser of the competition). Each team consisted of three secondary school students accompanied by one supervisor. The competition was arranged along the lines of the final stage of the Polish Physics Olympiad: one day for theoretical problems and one day for carrying out an experiment. One obvious difference was that the participants had to wait for the scripts to be marked. During the waiting period the organisers arranged two excursions by plane to Kraków and to Gdańsk. At the first IPhO the students had to solve four theoretical problems and one experimental problem.

The second Olympiad was organised by Prof. Rezső Kunfalvi in Budapest, Hungary, in 1968. Eight countries took part in that competition. The German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia joined the participating countries. Again, each country was represented by three secondary school students and one supervisor. Some time before the second IPhO a preliminary version of the Statutes and the Syllabus were produced. Later these documents were officially accepted by the International Board consisting of the supervisors of the teams that participated in the competition. This took place during a special meeting organised in Brno, Czechoslovakia, several months after the second IPhO.

The third IPhO was arranged by Prof. Rostislav Kostial in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1969. On that occasion each team consisted of five students and two supervisors. The competition in Brno was organised according to the official Statutes accepted earlier.

The next Olympiad took place in Moscow, Soviet Union, in 1970. Each country was represented by six students and two supervisors. During that Olympiad several small changes were introduced into the Statutes.

Since the fifth IPhO, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1971, each team has consisted of five pupils and two supervisors. In 1978 and 1980, the IPhO was not organized. This was due to the accession of the Western countries. The first western country to participate was France.[1] At first, the few Western countries participating declined to accept the principle that the IPhO be organized every second year in a Western and Eastern bloc country. Thus the Eastern block countries declined from organising the 1978 and 1980 olympiads. From 1982 onwards, the yearly competition was resumed as there were enough participating Western countries to share the load. At present, the venue of the Olympiad is decided for years ahead. After accession into IPhO, every country must notify the others within three years about its willingness to host the IPhO. After this, the country is placed on a waiting list which as of 2006 stretches well into the 2050s. The failure to organize the IPhO on turn will lead to temporary expulsion from the IPhO. This happened to France in 1986.

Structure of the competition[edit]

The competition lasts for two days. One day is devoted to theoretical problems (three problems involving at least four areas of physics taught in secondary schools, total number of marks is 30). Another day is devoted to experimental problems (one or two problems, total number of marks 20). These two days are separated by at least one day of rest. On both occasions the time allotted for solving the problems is five hours. Each team consists of students from general or technical secondary schools (not colleges or universities) or have graduated but are yet to enter university, and must be under the age of 20. Typically each team consists of five students (pupils) and two supervisors. Smaller teams may also participate(consisting 4 or less students with 1 supervisors).

Distribution of medals[edit]

The minimal scores required for Olympiad medals and honourable mentions are chosen by the organizers according to the following rules: A gold medal should be awarded to the top 8% of the participants. A silver medal or better should be awarded to the top 25%. A bronze medal or better should be awarded to the top 50%. An honourable mention or better should be awarded to the top 67%. All other participants receive certificates of participation. The participant with the highest score (absolute winner) receives a special prize, in addition to a gold medal.[2]


Number Year Host Country Host City Absolute Winner Score
1 1967  Poland Warsaw  HUN Sándor Szalay 39/40
2 1968  Hungary Budapest  POL Tomasz Kręglewski
 TCH Mojmír Simerský
3 1969  Czechoslovakia Brno  TCH Mojmír Šob 48/48
4 1970  Soviet Union Moscow  URS Mikhaïl Volochine 57/60
5 1971  Bulgaria Sofia  TCH Karel Šafařík
 HUN Ádám Tichy-Rács
6 1972  Romania Bucharest  HUN Zoltán Szabó 57/60
1973 Not held
7 1974  Poland Warsaw  POL Jarosław Deminet
 POL Jerzy Tarasiuk
8 1975  East Germany Güstrow  URS Sergey Korshunov 43/50
9 1976  Hungary Budapest  POL Rafał Łubis 47.5/50
10 1977  Czechoslovakia Hradec Králové  TCH Jiří Svoboda 49/50
1978 Not held
11 1979  Soviet Union Moscow  URS Maksim Tsipine 43/50
1980 Not held
12 1981  Bulgaria Varna  URS Aleksandr Goutine 47/50
13 1982  West Germany Malente  FRG Manfred Lehn 43/50
14 1983  Romania Bucharest  BUL Ivan Ivanov 43.75/50
15 1984  Sweden Sigtuna  NED Jan de Boer
 ROM Sorin Spânoche
16 1985  SFR Yugoslavia Portorož  TCH Patrik Španĕl 42.5/50
17 1986  United Kingdom London-Harrow  URS Oleg Volkov 37.9/50
18 1987  East Germany Jena  ROM Catalin Malureanu 49/50
19 1988  Austria Bad Ischl  GBR Conrad McDonnell 39.38/50
20 1989  Poland Warsaw  USA Steven Gubser 46.33/50
21 1990  Netherlands Groningen  GBR Alexander H. Barnett 45.7/50
22 1991  Cuba Havana  URS Timour Tchoutenko 48.2/50
23 1992  Finland Helsinki  CHN Chen Han 44/50
24 1993  USA Williamsburg  CHN Zhang Junan
 GER Harald Pfeiffer
25 1994  China Beijing  CHN Yang Liang 44.3/50
26 1995  Australia Canberra  CHN Yu Haitao 95/100
27 1996  Norway Oslo  CHN Liu Yurun 47.5/50
28 1997  Canada Sudbury  IRN Sayed Mehdi Anvari 47.25/50
29 1998  Iceland Reykjavík  CHN Chen Yuao 47.5/50
30 1999  Italy Padova  RUS Konstantin Kravtsov 49.8/50
31 2000  United Kingdom Leicester[3]  CHN Lu Ying[3] 43.4/50[3]
32 2001  Turkey Antalya  RUS Daniyar Nourgaliev 47.55/50
33 2002  Indonesia Bali  VIE Ngoc Duong Dang 45.40/50
34 2003  Taiwan Taipei  USA Pavel Batrachenko 42.30/50
35 2004  South Korea Pohang  BLR Alexander Mikhalychev 47.70/50
36 2005  Spain Salamanca  HUN Gábor Halász
 TWN Lin Ying-hsuan
37 2006  Singapore Singapore  INA Jonathan Pradana Mailoa 47.20/50
38 2007  Iran Isfahan  KOR Choi Youngjoon 48.80/50
39 2008  Vietnam Hanoi  CHN Tan Longzhi 44.60/50
40 2009  Mexico Mérida  CHN Shi Handuo 48.20/50
41 2010  Croatia Zagreb  CHN Yu Yichao 48.65/50
42 2011  Thailand Bangkok  TWN Hsu Tzu-ming 48.50/50
43 2012  Estonia Tartu and Tallinn  HUN Attila Szabó 45.80/50
44 2013  Denmark Copenhagen  HUN Attila Szabó 47/50
45 2014  Kazakhstan Astana  CHN Xiaoyu Xu 41.20/50
46 2015  India Mumbai  KOR Taehyoung Kim 48.30/50
47 2016   Switzerland and  Liechtenstein Zurich  CHN Mao Chenkai 48.10/50
48 2017  Indonesia Yogyakarta Uncertain[4][5][6]
 CHN Haoyang Gao (Theory)
 JPN Akihiro Watanabe (Experiment)
Not published
(under 40)[5]
49 2018  Portugal Lisbon  CHN Yang Tianhua 46.8/50
50 2019  Israel Tel Aviv TBD TBD
51 2020  Lithuania TBD TBD TBD
52 2021  Belarus TBD TBD TBD
53 2022  Japan Tokyo[7] TBD TBD
54 2023  Iran TBD TBD TBD
55 2024  France TBD TBD TBD
56 2025  Colombia TBD TBD TBD
58 2027  South Korea TBD TBD TBD
59 2028  Ecuador TBD TBD TBD
  • In some of contests, Taiwan uses Chinese Taipei as their team name to join the contest.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Statutes of the International Physics Olympiads
  3. ^ a b c "IPhO 2000 Results – Gold Medal Holders". University of Leicester. Archived from the original on 20 September 2000. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Minutes of IPhO 2017" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b "Indonesian students win gold, silver medals in International Physics Olympiad".
  6. ^ "Indonesia Wins Two Gold, Three Silver Medals at International Physics Olympiad".
  7. ^ 2022年大会出題委員長 早野龍五氏のTwitter

External links[edit]