Regulations Pertaining to the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO)
Provided in February 1997 by:
Dr. Walter E. Mientka,
Secretary of the IMO Advisory Board
University of Nebraska, Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0658, U.S.A.
A. The aims of the IMO are:
- to discover, encourage and challenge mathematically
gifted young people in all countries;
- to foster friendly relations between mathematicians
of all countries;
- to create opportunities for the exchange of information
on school syllabuses and practice throughout the world.
B1. Participation in an IMO is by invitation. Each
invited country is entitled to send a team consisting of a leader,
a deputy leader and no more than six contestants.
B2. Contestants should not have been formally enrolled
and commenced their studies at a university or at any equivalent
post-secondary institution. A contestant's 20th birthday must
be after the day of the second examination paper.
B3. The host country covers all official expenses
for the teams, leaders and deputy leaders, including meals and
accommodations for the period of the official program. Any country
whose team, leader or deputy spends extra days in the host country
must meet the full cost of such extra days.
B4. Observers and family members may accompany a leader
or deputy leader. Such observers or family members are responsible
for all their own expenses. The host country may, if necessary,
restrict the number of such 'extra' persons.
B5. Each invited country wishing to participate in
an IMO must send an official acceptance to be received by the
organizers by the closing date stated.
B6. Each participating country must send to the organizers
information as requested by the dates specified.
C1. Each participating country is expected to submit
problems, with solutions, for consideration by the host country.
The problems should, if possible, cover various fields of pre-university
mathematics and be of different degrees of difficulty. Problems
and solutions may be submitted in English, French, German, Russian
C2. The organizers shall not distribute short listed
problems to the participating students.
D1. The contest will take place on two days. On each
day 4 1/2 hours will be allotted for the examination paper and
each day the paper will contain three problems, each worth 7 points.
D2. The problems will be given to each contestant
in her/his own language.
D3. Each contestant is to work independently and submit
solutions in her/his own language. Students writing should finish
when all others do except for exceptional circumstance which will
be brought to the Jury as soon as possible.
D4. The only instruments permitted in the contest
are writing and drawing instruments. In particular, books, papers,
tables, calculators and computers may not be brought into the
D5. Each contestant's solutions are first assessed
by her/his leader and deputy leader.
D6. The final scores, unless disputed and referred
to the Jury by the leaders, are decided by the coordinators appointed
by the organizers. The score for each problem for each contestant,
agreed by the team leader and the coordinators, is recorded and
signed by the team leader and one of the coordinators for that
D7. For each problem the coordination of solutions
by contestants in the team from the host country shall be verified
by the team leader of the country which submitted the problem.
D8. The numbers of first, second and third prizes
will be approximately in the ratio 1:2:3. The total number of
these prizes will not be more than half of the number of contestants.
D9. Special prizes may be awarded for solutions considered
outstanding by the Jury.
D10. Each contestant who has not received any one
of the first, second or third prizes will receive a certificate
of Honorable Mention if she/he has scored full points (7) for
at least one problem.
D11. Each contestant shall receive a Certificate of
E1. The Jury consists of all team leaders and a chair
and a deputy chair appointed by the organizers. A leader may
be replaced by her/his deputy. Observers may attend meetings
of the Jury only with the permission of the chair, but are not
entitled to speak or to vote. Deputy leaders may attend meetings
of the Jury after the contest, but shall have no right to speak
nor to vote.
E2. The chair and each leader have one vote. A motion
shall be carried by a simple majority of votes. In the event
of a tie, the chair shall have a casting vote.
E3. The Jury may appoint sub-committees to consider
E4. The meetings of the Jury will be conducted principally
in English. Whenever requested, and, in particular, before any
vote, interpretations will be given in French, German, Russian,
and any other language that the host country deems to be desirable.
E5. When a problem has been selected for the contest
the Jury shall first approve an English language version. Final
versions in English, French, German, Russian and Spanish shall
be approved by the Jury.
E6. Before the contest, the Jury:
- verifies that all contestants comply with the
prescribed conditions for participation;
- selects the contest problems from among the submitted
proposals on the basis of a preliminary selection made by the
Problem Selection Committee appointed by the organizers;
- approves the translations of the chosen problems
into all required languages.
E7. The Jury considers any written questions raised
by any contestant during the first half hour of each of the two
examinations, and decides on the replies to be given.
E8. After the contest, the Jury:
- considers any dispute which may have arisen during
coordination concerning the points proposed for a solution and
decides the appropriate number of points to be awarded;
- approves the scores for all contestants;
- decides the award of first, second and third
- considers and makes decisions on all proposals
to award special prizes;
- receives a report from the IMOAB;
- considers any matter raised concerning future
The IMO Jury commends the following points to IMO host countries.
- It is the accepted custom to invite to an IMO
a team from each country that has participated in any of the three
- Where a country has participated in none of the
three previous IMOs, a host country may write to determine if
an invitation would be welcome.
- Where two countries that have each participated
in past IMOs unite to form one country (as happened with the two
Germanys) one team from the united country should be invited.
- Where a country that has participated in past
IMOs breaks up to become a number of separate countries, each
of the new countries should be invited to send a team to the IMO,
but no invitation should be sent to the former country that has
now been divided; there should not be 'double representation'.
However, it is realized that financial and accommodation constraints
may make it difficult for a host country to follow this guideline.
- A 'new' country that wishes to participate in
future IMOs should apply to the Secretary of the IMOAB. (Any
inquiries received by Leaders or others should be directed to
the Secretary of the IMOAB.) The usual procedure will be for
a 'new' country to first send an Observer to the next IMO, paying
in full all charges for the Observer's transport, accommodation,
food, etc., and to enter a team for the subsequent IMO. Thus,
when the Secretary receives an application, he will contact the
hosts of at least the next two IMOs to ensure that they can meet
the above program. The next host must be able to accept the Observer
and the second host must be able to accept and accommodate the
team. All other formally accepted host countries will be informed
of the application at the same time.
- If a host finds itself uncertain of the countries
or territories that should be invited to send teams to the IMO
the IMOAB should be asked for advice.
- A country's delegation normally consists of a
Leader and Deputy and the team, usually consisting of 6 pupils.
- Official invitations should be sent to members
of the IMOAB. Host countries should meet all expenses (apart
from travel to the IMO) of IMOAB members who are not team leaders
- It is accepted custom that the IMOAB meets on
at least two occasions during the IMO. The first meeting should
be held on the day before leaders arrive for the IMO.
- The host country must ensure that the working
conditions for the students when they are writing the solutions
to the problems are satisfactory, with adequate heating and ventilation.
In addition it is essential that the arrangements are such that
the students are not encouraged to cheat. In general there should
be no more than one student from each country in any examination
- As more countries take part in IMOs the range
of languages and scripts used increases. Organizers are advised
to seek an interpreter/coordinator for each language used in the
IMO who is competent to check that the translation of the problems
is accurate and that the students' scripts are being fairly assessed.
- At least half a day's free time should be allowed
for leaders before the first Jury meeting at which the selection
of problems is discussed.
- When issuing an official invitation a potential
host country should make certain that sufficient funds are available
to meet the costs of the IMO.
- Host countries are advised to consider accident
and health insurance for participants and to inform participating
countries before the IMO of actions taken.
- It is helpful if the host country informs participating
countries of the arrangements for accommodation of teams and deputies.
If possible the deputy should be housed near to her/his team.
- At the conclusion of an IMO leaders should be
provided with a full set of scores for all contestants and countries
and a full set of addresses of leaders and deputy leaders.
- It is very helpful if a host country prepares
a report on its IMO, noting any difficulties or problems encountered,
and sends this report to the IMOAB and to the next year's host.
- It is essential that, before they leave home
for the IMO, leaders are informed of a telephone number for use
The leader should be sufficiently involved in mathematics
to carry out the following responsibilities.
- Inform the participants, the deputy and other
persons involved, of the regulations for the Olympiad. In particular
the leader has to inform the participants that the use of notebooks,
mathematical tables, calculators, computers, etc. is not allowed.
- Ensure that her/his country submits problems
to the Problem Selection Committee of the host country. If possible
each problem should be accompanied by a description of its creation.
Ensure that the proposed problems and their solutions are kept
- Submit to the Problem Selection Committee of
the IMO an English version of all the problems used in contests
(national or regional) arranged by her/his country and held after
the previous IMO.
- Attend all the meetings of the Jury of the IMO
and take part in its work.
- Inform the jury of any short listed problem is
already known to her/him, her/his team or other people involved
in the preparation of the team.
- Ensure the preparation of an accurate translation
of the chosen problems into the contestants' own language for
the use of her/his team.
- Ensure that the deadlines set by the host country
- During the IMO supply the representative of the
next host country with up to date addresses of institutions and
contact persons to whom documents and invitations should be sent.
- Inform her/his national committee of decisions
taken by the Jury during the IMO.
Additional responsibilities include:
- The Deputy Leader should be sufficiently involved
in mathematics to help the Leader, and in case of an emergency
to replace the Leader. In particular, the Deputy Leader should:
- assist the Leader with the evaluation of the
teams solutions to the problems
- assist the Leader during the coordination of
- Inform the participants of the regulations pertaining
to the examination.
- Supervise the conduct and welfare of the team
during the activities of the IMO.
- The Advisory Board is a committee whose members
are nominated by the Jury of the IMO and appointed by ICMI. Members
of the IMOAB have, or have had a role directly linked to the IMOs,
such as Leader, Deputy, or organizer of an IMO.
- The IMOAB is an advisory body in which propositions
concerning the functioning of IMOs are discussed. The IMOAB has
no power to make decisions; all decisions are made by the IMO
Jury. Between IMOs the IMOAB acts on behalf of the Jury, and
reports any decisions taken to the Jury at the next IMO.
- The IMOAB also has the responsibility of maintaining
relations between IMOs and other international organizations with
the object of promoting the popularization of IMOs.
- The IMOAB is responsible to the Jury for all
its actions and each year, during the IMO, shall report to the
Jury on actions it has taken.
Constitution and Meetings
- The membership of the IMOAB consists of a Chair,
a Secretary, three other members nominated by the Jury and appointed
by ICMI; and representatives of the host countries for the last,
the present and the two following IMOs.
- The period of service for appointed members is
four years. The 'appointment year' is from the end of one IMO
to the end of the next. Nominations for membership of the IMOAB
must be given to the Secretary at the end of an IMO; the Jury
votes to select new members during the next IMO.
In making appointments it is desirable that the Chair
and Secretary should not give up their posts in the same year.
If possible the Chair and Secretary should have
been members of the IMOAB before taking up their offices.
- The IMOAB shall meet at least twice during each
IMO (the first meeting being at the beginning of the IMO), and
at other times if necessary.
- The Chair and the Secretary of the IMOAB may
attend meetings of the IMO Jury, but, unless they are leaders,
shall not be entitled to vote.
Concerning the functioning of IMOs
- The IMOAB must ensure that an IMO is held each
year. It must seek invitations from countries to host IMOs and
liaise with countries offering such invitations.
- The IMOAB shall report to the Jury offers to
host IMOs that it has received. The Jury decides the offers to
be accepted. The Chair of the IMOAB is responsible for informing
countries concerned of the Jury's decisions.
- The IMOAB will respond to questions and requests
for advice or assistance from host countries as they prepare to
hold the IMO.
- The IMOAB will present to the Jury proposals
designed to improve the organization and running of IMOs.
- The IMOAB will inform the Jury of impending changes
in the membership of the IMOAB that will require new appointments.
- The IMOAB will record decisions of the Jury on
any matters arising from the above items.
Concerning relations with other bodies
- The IMOAB may establish links with other national
or international organizations whose activities may relate to
IMOs (e.g. UNESCO, ICME, Olympiads of other subjects, ...). Such
links will have as their objectives:
- the exchange of information concerning each organization's
- diffusion of documents or studies concerning
Jury empowered items
- The Jury empowered the IMOAB to investigate the
establishment of an IMOAB Trust Fund.
Operation pronouncements to the Jury
- Prohibit individuals from appearing before the
jury to propagate entities not related to the functions of the
- Establish an IMO World Wide Web page.
IMOAB operating procedure
- The IMOAB Chair and Secretary were designated
to meet with any leader who has a concern about the rules and
regulations associated with the IMO. Host country representatives
will at all times be present at the meetings, associated with
- Only members of the jury are allowed to vote.
- The voting will take place by secret ballot.
- One can vote for at most the number of candidates
to be elected. Ballots with more than this number will be considered
- Each candidate shall give a short presentation
- Members of the jury shall be given an opportunity
to express their view(s) about the candidates.
- The chair shall have the casting vote in case
of a tie vote which has an effect on the number to be elected.
If the Chair chooses to abstain, then a vote run-off shall be
conducted with only those in the relevant tie position listed
on the ballot.
- The host country shall provide two people to
count the votes.
On July 17, 1995 the Jury of the 36th IMO approved
the establishment of an IMO Trust Fund. This Fund is to be used to:
- Respond to requests from countries unable to
participate in the IMO because of fiscal contingencies.
- Respond to unexpected IMO fiscal emergencies.
Application for Trust Funds will be sent to the IMOAB
Secretary. Award decisions will be made by the IMOAB. Proposals
for the attainment of funds for this Trust will be presented to
Several countries have contributed to this Trust
Fund. Donations are solicited and should be sent to the Secretary
of the IMOAB.