Instead, it plans to award the prestigious prize twice next year.
“We have decided not to award a prize after long and intense discussions. The confidence (in the Swedish Academy) is so low in the rest of the world that we will not do it this year. However, we plan to award the prize next year and hopefully then a double prize. It has happened five times before and is not a unique event,” the Academy’s interim head Anders Olsson told newswire TT.
Friday's news comes after weeks of crisis meetings and mass resignations from the Swedish Academy. It all started during the #MeToo campaign when 18 women in newspaper Dagens Nyheter accused a well-known French culture figure – with whom it had close ties – of sexual violence or harassment.
The man in question, Jean-Claude Arnault, denied all accusations. However, the reports also led to a series of other questions raised about the Academy's close ties to his culture venue, including about payouts made to the venue and allegations of names of Nobel Prize winners being leaked in advance.
After failing to contain the fallout, six out of 18 total members resigned, including the permanent secretary Sara Danius and Arnault's wife, poet Katarina Frostensson.
Traditionally, its 18 members are appointed for life and cannot resign, but they can choose not to participate. One member has been inactive since 1989 when the Academy refused to condemn a fatwa against Salman Rushdie following the publication of his novel ‘The Satanic Verses'. It did so 27 years later. Another member left the Academy in 2015.
According to its statutes, at least 12 members are needed in order to vote in a new member, triggering a massive headache for the 10 remaining members.
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, who is the patron of the Academy founded in 1786, has agreed to change the statutes to allow members to resign and be replaced, thereby ensuring the institution's survival.