Stockholm Nobel ceremony cancelled for the first time since 1944 – but prizes will still be awarded

Stockholm Nobel ceremony cancelled for the first time since 1944 – but prizes will still be awarded
2019 Economist laureate Abhijit Banerjee accepting the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
The Nobel Prize ceremony traditionally held in Stockholm will be replaced with a televised event due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have said.

Under normal circumstances laureates are invited to Stockholm to receive their medals and diplomas from the king of Sweden in person, at a formal ceremony in December.

“The current circumstances with the ongoing pandemic means that this is a unique year in the history of the Nobel Prize, as the idea is that medals and diplomas are handed over to the laureates safely in their home countries,” the Nobel Foundation said in a statement.

It said that would likely be done “with the help of embassies or the laureates' universities”.

In July, the foundation announced that the lavish banquet that traditionally follows the award ceremony would be cancelled this year and the events of the “Nobel Week” leading up to the prize ceremony would take on “new forms”.

The award ceremony, which was last cancelled in 1944 due to World War Two, would instead take the form of a televised event “where the awarding of this year's prizes will be woven together with features from different parts of the world”.

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During World War Two, several prizes were not awarded and several were postponed, even though Sweden did not participate in the fighting. The 1944 prizes were awarded in 1945, according to Nobel historian Gustav Källstrand.

“The last time there wasn't any ceremony in Stockholm was 1944, but this year there will be a ceremony, just a digital one,” Källstrand told AFP.

This year's laureates, in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics, will be announced between October 5th and 12th.

Earlier on Tuesday, the head of the Nobel Institute in Norway said the ceremony for the Peace Prize – which is held in Oslo, also on December 10th – would be scaled back and moved from the usual grand venue at Oslo's City Hall to the smaller Oslo University auditorium, due to the pandemic.

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