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International Chemistry Olympiad was held online, hosted by Japan for the second time
Former Olympians greatly contributed to the operations

Department for Promotion of Science Education

Supporting Student Contests in Science and Technology

The Japan Science and Technology Agency has supported science and technology contests since 2004. International Science Olympiads have been held and hosted by Japan several times, and numerous students have become Olympians in science. In 2021, the 53rd International Chemistry Olympic (IChO) was held remotely from July 25 to August 2.

The teams of the Organizing Committee worked together and devoted themselves to the preparations for the second IChO Japan under the leadership of Kohei Tamao, the President of IChO Japan Committee. Despite concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, 312 students from 85 countries and regions participated in the event—the largest number IChO has ever had. Former Olympians also made considerable contributions as support members.

Because of the time-zone differences across countries, the 5-hour written exam did not start simultaneously but was conducted within fixed time frames. The Scientific Committee, which was in charge of the exams, supervised the exams on 100 PCs over 17 hours. Moreover, 4 hours after the exams, the committee made final adjustments with the mentors from each country for another 20 hours to ensure that the scores and results were appropriate. It was a challenge given the different time zones. For the international exchange among students, which is one of the major aims of the IChO, over 300 students enjoyed a virtual tour to SPring-8, the world’s largest synchrotron radiation facility to which access is normally prohibited.

With no major troubles, IChO Japan gained international recognition and was commended as follows: “It has never been conducted so smoothly.” All four Japanese students won medals. The silver medalist, Yuya Koike, Nagoya Koyo Senior High School, said, “Through international exchange, I realized that it is very important to learn English as well as Chemistry. I appreciated that the teachers and mentors taught us Chemistry beyond the level of high school requirements. I would like to thank my friends and parents who supported me.”

  • The Scientific Committee supervised the exams.

    The Scientific Committee supervised the exams.
    (Photo provided by the IChO Japan Committee)