| Of all the places in the venue of each and everyone of all IOIs, the meeting room of the General Assembly is surrounded by an aura of mystery - because it is there that the subjects of the contest are "being born". The questions handed out to the contestants are being decided in this meeting room, before they are handed out to the leaders of the national teams for translation (more about that painstaking process you'll find in the frame, next page).
The decision on the final list of subjects is being taken in a true democratic way, as the heads of the national teams accept (or do not accept, in some rather rare cases) the proposals of the International Scientific Committee, headed by the president of the local Scientific Committee of the organizing country. The subjects (three for each of the two days) are part of a much larger "pool", for which the preparation has started at least one year in advance.
The members of the International Scientific Committee consult each other frequently during
these months, yet the final shortlist is being decided a few months before the IOI - in the case of Athens, that was in June 2004.
The General Assembly is being held the previous day of each contest day to review the ISC proposals - their agreement is followed by the "fine tuning" (i.e. the final editing) of the question in order to be clear and easily understood by all the contestants. In case that there is an appeal for a subject (for example, in case that the same or a quite similar subject was used in an international or national competition, not a long ago).When the subjects are declared final, they are translated in dozens of different languages. From then on until the time of the contest, the heads of the national teams are separated from the contestants.
With the valuable help of volunteers, more than 20.000 copies are produced and sorted each time, in order to help each contestant focus on the questions asked, without worrying about the true meaning of the words. Every one of them gets his own closed envelop with the subject in his native language, as well as in English. And as you may have already noticed, the place each contestant is being allotted is different every day, in order to safeguard the integrity of the tests…