The International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics is governed by a set of Statutes*, initially derived from those of the International Physics Olympiad, and subsequently modified (through a voting process described in the statues) to better reflect the needs of the competition. All participants agree to abide by the terms of the Statutes.
According to the statutes, the governing body of the IOAA organisation is the International Board (IB), sometimes also called the International Board Meeting or IBM as meetings of the Board are referred to in the event schedules. The IB consists of the team leaders of the primary (non-guest) team from each country attending an IOAA event, who serve as members from the first IBM of that event until the next IOAA event. Many leaders have participated in several IOAA events and may thus be members of the International Board for a corresponding number of years.
Decisions of the Board are taken by open majority vote (except for elections, which are by closed ballot) following free discussions. Each member may vote independently, regardless of country affiliation. The Board is considered the highest decision making body of the IOAA and may override decisions of the local event organiser if it deems so necessary. It may also change the Statutes following the procedures outlined therein.
Past decisions of the Board made in response to particular circumstances are considered to form a precedent if those circumstances recur, thus ensuring consistency and continuity.
In addition to the members, the Board has a President and a General Secretary, who are elected by the Board by majority vote for terms of 5 years. There are no limits on re-election. The President and Secretary advise the local organisers, supervise Board meetings and competition events, ensure compliance with the Statues and previous Board decisions, and have a tie-breaking vote.
This governance structure allows for continuity between IOAA events and for the aggregation of collective knowledge and experience, leading to improvements in the events from year to year. Further, the democratic structure and collective governance system makes the IOAA organisation independent of any one person and grants it an fair and open structure in which the voices of all participants can be heard.
Each individual event is organised by a Local Organising Committee, often with an Academic Committee or equivalent overseeing setting of the problem tasks, and a Jury responsible for marking student papers, as well as other assistants as required.