IOI and eJOI: the French informatics champions bring home six medals!
Scheduled September 2-6 in Tbilisi (Georgia) and September 13-19 in Singapore, the 2020 editions of the European Junior Olympiad in Informatics (eJOI, reserved for students 14 and under) and The International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI, students still in high school at the time of selection) had to be held remotely due to Covid-19. This did not stop the French teams, coached by the France-ioi association, from participating in events on the Parisian campus of its historic sponsor EPITA and winning six medals!
There was the eJOI team, winner of a silver medal (Charles Dai, who won 10th place in the general ranking) and three bronze medals (Ali Rayan Boudjema, Oscar Fischler and Jiang Tianrui). And there was also the IOI team, composed of Justin Cahuzac, Rémy Kimbrough (bronze medalist), Grégoire Le Corre and Sven Meyer (bronze medalist as well). These young individuals proudly represented France, while competing against the international algorithmic elite at these rather atypical Olympics. To succeed, they were able to count on the unwavering support of France-ioi, the association that has selected, trained and supported these budding champions for over 15 years. Even during the exceptional circumstances that we have faced in 2020. “The preparatory sessions, as well as the selection phase were carried out remotely due to obvious reasons, explained Mathias Hiron, France-ioi co-founder and president. For example, the last step of the eJOI selection process is traditionally held in April at EPITA, but we had to set up alternative online solutions using Discord and other tools, such as collaborative tables, to successfully maintain this phase.”
Finally, the device created by France-ioi worked rather well, allowing them to maintain good training conditions for both the selected candidates as well as their coaches. “We also used these tools during the summer to host the final of the Algoréa contest, dedicated to junior high school students. Obviously, this did not offset the shortfall in terms of social appeal. These sessions and events are not only used for self-improvement, they are also an opportunity for young people to meet and discuss various issues. It is definitely more difficult to build relationships through interposed screens!”
The preparatory cycle was not the only part that was disrupted. The organization of the final phases of the two international contests also had to be adapted to pandemic-related constraints. The two trips planned for the participants were canceled along with sightseeing expeditions and meetings set up with other young people from around the world. And, for the contest itself, each competing country had to make do with the means at hand to best respect the instructions. This is what happened at EPITA. “Each country did its best to maintain the minimum monitoring requirements in order to ensure the credibility of the results” says Mathias. This didn’t slow down the French team, and in particular, the eJOI team.
Composed of members who participated for the first time in this competition, after having gained experience in the past by taking part in France-ioi activities, the team managed to win four medals. An outstanding performance and great prospects for the future, according to the Didier Deschamps of algorithms: “Although having made the team already shows their high level, winning a medal definitely confirms their potential!” “Nonetheless, only time will tell if the quartet will compete again next year. Moreover, stated Mathias Hiron, the next eJOI and IOI should, exceptionally, be organized again by the countries initially planned to host the events this year, Georgia and Singapore. We hope that the health situation will have evolved by then!