The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) 2022, scheduled for July, will be entirely virtual and hosted outside Russia. The decision is of great importance to mathematicians around the world, who have rarely seen the dates or locations of their periodic appointments changed in more than a century.
Since 1900, the mathematics community, represented by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), has met every four years in a different place on the planet to present advances in all areas of its discipline. Normally, thousands of mathematicians and mathematicians from over a hundred countries attend the ICM. At ICM 2018, Saint Petersburg was chosen as the next venue.
Russia’s actions, condemned around the world, made an in-person event in Russia impossible
But the IMU issued on February 26 a release after mathematical societies in many countries, including Spain, will request the cancellation of ICM 2022: “An ICM is a unique meeting place where mathematicians from all over the world put aside political and cultural differences and talk about mathematics. However, recent events in Russia and Ukraine have radically changed the situation. Russia’s actions, condemned around the world, made an in-person event in Russia impossible.”
It is not yet known where the Fields medals will be awarded.
“We strongly condemn Russia’s actions,” they add. “We deeply sympathize with our Ukrainian colleagues and the Ukrainian people.” After “carefully analyzing the situation”, the IMU ruled out either postponing the meeting or canceling it altogether – this “would not serve the mathematical community”, they say – and opted for virtuality, since “today we have that option”.
Scheduled dates will remain. The Fields Medals will be presented in person at a ceremony outside Russia, where it is not yet known.
“The vast majority of Russian mathematicians are against this senseless war”
Russian mathematicians organizing ICM 2022, among them Andrey Okunkov —who received his Fields Medal in Madrid in 2006— sent the following message to their international colleagues: “We condemn the madness, injustice and irreversibility of war, which threatens the very existence of humanity. Although our losses cannot be compared to the loss and suffering of millions of people in Ukraine, we are devastated to see all our dreams and work of many years ruined. The goals we work towards could not be further from the horror of what is happening and those responsible.
the spanish mathematician Manuel de Leãoformer member of the IMU Executive Committee, wrote in a blog post yesterday, The Troubled History of Russia and the Soviet Union in the ICM: “We all know many Russian colleagues, we know that the vast majority are against this senseless war, but the mathematical community must remain firm in the defense of democratic values”.
There is little precedent for ICM changes like the one taking place this year. William Curberaauthor of a ICM history, mentions only two occasions: “In 1916 the plan for Stockholm was not carried out by the IGM; Not the 1940s in New York either, it was in 1950s at Harvard.”
Spanish mathematicians, through various societies such as Royal Spanish Society of Mathematics (RSME) and the Spanish Society of Applied Mathematics (SEMA) and represented at the IMU with the Spanish Mathematics Committee, released a statement last Saturday showing “its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its rejection of the actions taken by the Russian government”, and announcing that they would not go to St. there.
Repulsion in the international scientific community
Other scientists have also expressed in these days their rejection of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. O European Federation of Academies of Science and Humanities (ALLEA), reacts “with shock and deep regret” and “urges the Russian government to respect international conventions on the protection of civilians and cultural property”. He also expresses “deep concern for the safety of our academic colleagues”.
O Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE)as its president told SINC Pearl Wahnonhopes to make public a statement condemning the invasion.
O Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) put a message on your twitter account: “We join in the rejection and condemnation of the war declared by #Russia. All our solidarity with the Ukrainian people after the attack initiated by Russia during the early hours of this Thursday.”
Last week, Russian scientists and science journalists published an open letter rejecting the invasion of Ukraine, which was joined by hundreds of signatories.