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Switzerland takes over organisation of the International Physics Olympiad at short notice

Every year, the best young physicists in the world compete in the International Physics Olympiad. This year, it was supposed to be organised in Belarus, but everything changed because of the Ukraine war. Instead, the competition will now take place online from 10 to 18 July. The last-minute initiative of committed Swiss volunteers made it possible.

Logo of the International Physics Olympiad
Image: Schweizer Physik-Olympiade

In 2016, Switzerland hosted the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) once before. Back then, hundreds of young people travelled to write exams, discover the mountains and eat fondue during the event, which was planned over many months at the University of Zurich. Six years later, the IPhO is once again in Swiss hands, but under different circumstances. The event in Belarus was cancelled in the spring due to the current situation. In cooperation with helpers from various countries, volunteers from the Swiss Physics Olympiad took over the organisation at short notice. Their goal: to give motivated, talented young people the chance to take part in the IPhO again this year!

Creative format to facilitate exchange

Due to the short time of preparation, the event will be organised online. However, the individual delegations will have the opportunity to coordinate with each other and arrange meetings on site. Thus, the Swiss delegation will spend the IPhO together with seven other delegations in the north of Denmark. The neighbouring countries Austria and France will be present, but also Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Iceland and Israel. Thus, in addition to the academic part, the participants will also experience cultural exchange and meet like-minded people from all over the world. This is particularly important to the organisers because the IPhO has already had to be held completely online in the last two years due to the Corona pandemic.

Five high school students from Switzerland take part

The five high school students representing Switzerland have qualified for the international level through their performances at the finals of the Swiss Physics Olympiad. A total of around 350 participants from about 70 countries will take part in the IPhO and write two five-hour exams. Both practical and theoretical knowledge is required. "We hope that this event will be as exciting as the first images from the James Webb Telescope, which will send the first colour image to Earth exactly in the week of the International Physics Olympiad. This special event was the inspiration for our logo this year," says Nicolà Gantenbein, one of the Swiss organisers.

The Swiss Delegation

  • Adrian Serrano Capatina (Ecole Internationale de Genève, GE)
  • Bruno Pontecorvo (Institut International de Lancy, GE)
  • Lucio Ineichen (Kantonsschule Uetikon am See, ZH)
  • Luis Jost (Old Cantonal School Aarau, AG)
  • Piranavan Subaharan (Kantonsschule Schaffhausen, SH)



Lara Gafner
University of Bern
Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern