Event Overview

IBO Challenge Event Overview (to be updated)

Dr. Makoto Asashima
President, IBO2020 Organizing Committee
Last Updated: 8 September 2020

Message from the IBO2020 Organizing Committee

In light of the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, one of our options was to cancel IBO2020 and take no further actions. However, as an alternative plan, the IBO2020 Organizing Committee would like to introduce a remotely-conducted competition where we can still provide selected students with opportunities to showcase their abilities and encounter new aspects of biology.

However, since we cannot guarantee fully fair exam conditions, we believe that it is not appropriate to consider this competition as the same as previous IBOs. Therefore, we propose to host this competition with the name “IBO Challenge 2020 (A Substitute for the 31st IBO Nagasaki, JAPAN)” and award students only with medals and participation certificates. The participation certificates will not include the competitor’s ranking.

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  • Practical exams will be remotely conducted on August 11th, and theoretical exams will be conducted on August 12th, 2020. The theoretical exams will be six hours as usual, while the practical exams may be shorter. For more information about the exams, please visit the “Exam Overview” page on the website.
  • We propose the dates above, instead of the original IBO2020 dates, in order to give all member countries more time to select their representatives. However, we also believe that hosting the event after late-August is not realistic, because of the complications caused by some students starting university in the fall.
  • The timeline is as follows:
    • 15 June: A demo website for the bioinformatics practical exam opens on the website. This enables each country to assess what they will need in order to prepare a proper environment for the exams, such as computer or internet access.
    • 31 July 11:59 PM JST: Deadline to register country and personal information. Participation fees payment due (please let us know if your country needs an invoice by a certain date).
    • 7 August: Online jury meeting begins.
      • We will only accept voting through an online form. There will be no video conferences.
    • 8 August: Deadline to complete voting at the jury meeting.
    • 10 August: The final version of exams will be sent to all countries. Translation period begins.
    • 11 August: Practical exam will be conducted in each country.
    • 12 August: Theoretical exam will be conducted in each country.
      • For both exams, the exam schedule within each day should be decided by each country to accommodate their own unique needs and obstacles.
      • Answer sheets for both exams should be printed and filled out physically, except of a part of the bioinformatics exam, which will be answered online.
    • 13 August: Deadline to submit the question and answer sheets digitally (i.e. scanned image or photo).
    • 24 August: The final results will be announced.

Exam Operations

  • Please read the “Exam Overview” page for more information.
  • On the Exam Overview page, you can download the latest Exam Operation Guidelines. Please read carefully as it contains rules and recommendations to properly host the exams within each country.

Exam Translation

  • There are no specific rules on how to coordinate the translation period within each country. It is encouraged, however, to take advantage of online communication tools to minimize the amount of physical contact during the event.
  • Countries that need to translate the questions must digitally submit the final version of translated questions to the organizers in prior to the exam. Please read the latest Exam Operation Guidelines (download from here) for more information.

Selection of Competitors

  • It is the responsibility of each NBO organization to select up to four competitors to participate in the event.
  • To accommodate countries that are experiencing difficulty in conducting an NBO this year, we will permit to select students based on the scores of preliminary round or the scores from last year’s NBO.
  • If you need more information or have concerns regarding the selection of students, please get in touch with the IBO2020 Organizing Committee and the IBO Steering Committee as soon as possible.


  • The participation certificates and medals will be issued under the name of “IBO Challenge 2020 (A Substitute for the 31st IBO Nagasaki, JAPAN).”
  • Certificates will only verify a competitor’s participation in the event. While we will disclose the raw scores,  we will not include the rankings or the T-scores.
  • The list of medal recipients (without specific rankings) will be posted on the IBO2020 official website.

Participation Fees

  • Participation fees for each country will be reduced to 100,000 JPY.
  • However, if your team is experiencing financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be able to waive your participation fees. Please read the “Participation Fees” page for more details.

Group Project

  • As a separate project from the exams above, the Organizing Committee is planning on arranging an online international group work activity to facilitate communication among competitors across the world.
  • Please visit the “International Group Project” page for more information.

Online Subgroup Meeting

  • Subgroup meeting for this event will be conducted online from August 2nd to 4th, 2020.
  • The timeline of the subgroup meeting is as follows:
    • 2 August: Online subgroup meeting (SGM) for practical exams begins.
    • 3 August: Online SGM for theoretical exams begins.
      Deadline to submit comments to the practical SGM.
    • 4 August: Deadline to submit comments to the theoretical SGM.