Disclaimer: all opinions written in this post are purely personal and not tied with any affiliation, organization, or institutional I am working with, including but not limited to the IOI 2022 organizers. Several members within IOI 2022 organizers might even try to prevent me from posting this.
Dear IOI Community in Codeforces,
I am writing in Codeforces this time, not in e-mails or IOI 2022 website since I am writing this in personal capacity and should not reflect a formal opinion of the IOI 2022 organizers. As you all might know, IOI 2022 will be conducted hybrid -- it will be hosted onsite, but we understand that it is impossible for some countries to come to Indonesia due to the current global pandemic, so these countries are still allowed to officially participate online. I am going to be very honest and transparent in this post.
This is the first time the IOI has a hybrid setting like this. This poses huge challenge for the organizers. We need to practically support 2 IOIs: those who come onsite (their visas, accomodations, transports, competition venues and equipments, etc.) and those who participates online (their VMs, technical supports, communication platforms, competition server in cloud, etc.). As a reminder, the Singapore organizer explicitly ruled out the hybrid option very early in 2021 due to the challenges and their manpower limitation. They wanted to host either fully onsite or fully online IOI 2021.
Also, our technical committee became a member of the International Technical Committee only for the past 2 years, and our International Committee representative became a member of the International Committee only for the past 3 years (this is in line with IOI Regulation S3.14). This means that we only observe the preparation of IOI only since 2019. Only 1 IOI has been conducted onsite since then. For the technical committee, they only observe it since 2020, which are conducted fully online. We are working very hard on catching up what we need to do to conduct an onsite IOI, and also working very hard on doing them.
We also just realized earlier this year that while quarantine restriction has been lifted up for vaccinated travellers entering Indonesia, the visa policy is not trivial. In April, we met with 15 international committtee members in Yogyakarta. Due to the pandemic, all of them (even our neighbouring Singaporeans) require a visa. They can't apply themselves -- it needs to be sponsored by an entity in Indonesia. Thus, we needed to process their visas on our side. The visa situation is slightly better now, that most nationalities do not need visa or can apply a visa on arrival. However, that still leaves up to 20+ teams that we need to process their visas.
If all these are not enough, IOI 2022 will also be the first IOI with delegations competing under the IOI flag. There are two such delegations, therefore the IOI team will contain 8 official participants. To make sure we can accomodate this, we need to extend and test all of existing IOI systems that usually assume each team has only up to official 4 contestants.
In all, I would like to point out and emphasize the challenges that we have to start bringing back IOI participation to onsite. However, I still believe that it is good to bring back the face-to-face interaction within the IOI community, which we don't have over the past 2 years. Therefore, we decided to host IOI 2022, despite the massive challenges we have.
I would like to mention several requests that we have received in our email. Again, keep in mind that everything posted here are PERSONAL OPINIONS AND NOT TIED with IOI 2022 organizers. Most of them are valid and understandable requests, but I feel like some of them are very stretched and burdened us with additional challenges on top of the list of massive challenges that we already have.
1) Some countries concerned that their students are not vaccinated, thus they will be quarantined in Indonesia based on the current policy. Please remember that earlier in January this year, the IOI President has sent everybody an email reminding all delegations to be vaccinated. In April, we publicized all of the IOI President's email in our website. While we try hard on our end to negotiate with our authorities, please stop asking whether non-vaccinated minors can enter Indonesia. Many regulators, including FDA, have approved several vaccinations for minors. Please vaccinate your students if they want to compete in Indonesia, or take your own risk that they might be quarantined. Use the recent controversy of a tennis player as a lesson. We hope to be able to see all of you here, but quarantine policy is not under our control.
2) This one is what grinds my gear and makes me write this post. A delegation appealed to bring an extra unofficial contestant (on top of the four official contestants) to participate in Indonesia, quoting IOI Regulation S2.8. When we rejected the request, quoting E2.8 that such request must be agreed with the host, the delegation escalated the request to the IOI President. (as a matter of fact, we already consulted with the IOI President regarding this request, and E2.8 was actually pointed out by the President). After that, they sent two more e-mails to us asking about our decision again. Really?
3) Some countries mentioned to us that flights to Indonesia are expensive. Indeed, after recent quarantine relaxations across several countries in South East Asia, ticket fares around here are incredibly expensive, presumably due to high demand. I, myself, cancelled some personal plans (unrelated to IOI 2022) to travel to Indonesia due to this reason. What I can say here is that plan and book your travel as early as possible to avoid an even higher surge of price.
In conclusion, I want to remind that despite the massive list of challenges that we are going to face, we decided to invite teams to attend IOI 2022 onsite. We want to make the best programming contest experience for all of the contestants and the delegation leaders. I know how important IOI is for high school students for the rest of their life. Believe me, I was an IOI participant myself. If we can, we want to accept all these incoming requests, but unfortunately I feel like some of them are too stretched. Focusing and handling all these requests might actually distract us on doing the important things. If you have some requests, please think back and consider if all 80+ teams make the same requests, and put yourself in our shoes. Are the requests reasonable? If you are the committee, will there be something you can do, and will you be stressed handling those kind of requests?
I said this before in my Facebook post and I am going to blatantly brag again: If we somehow pull this of, I will claim that Indonesia is the best IOI Organizer ever in the history of IOI.