If we want to explain, how the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad was born, we need to start from 1992 when the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) was held in Finland. Estonia had just regained its independence, and it was the Finnish organizers who invited the Estonian team to join IPhO. Since then, there was a very friendly relationship between the teams of the two countries, which were brought to the next level in 1999 when the first joint Estonian-Finnish training camps were held – a week-long theory camp in Estonia, and an experimental camp in Finland. 

In the Olympic preparation cycle, both training and team selection are very important components, and so in 2003 it was decided to extend the collaboration between the two countries: to select the Olympic teams, the first Estonian-Finnish Olympiad in Physics was held in Tallinn, at the Tallinn University of Technology, with the participation of ca 20 contestants from each country. At that time, it was much cheaper to organize such events in Estonia as compared to Finland, and there happened to be a strong team of recent IPhO graduates available in Estonia. So, it was decided to hold the subsequent Estonian-Finnish Olympiads in Tallinn, too.

Having only two participating teams seemed to be a waste of good problem sets, and so neighboring countries were invited: the Latvian team joined the competition in 2014, and the Swedish team in 2016. As a result, the competition was renamed, and the Nordic-Baltic Olympiad was born. With the four participating countries, the competition has reached a more or less optimal size – if the number of contestants was to be larger than ca 90, it would be difficult to fit everything into the time frame of three days.

Jaan Kalda

Header image by Mihkel Kree: