The traditional Nobel Prize Banquet held in December every year has been cancelled in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the Nobel Foundation which manages the prestigious award ceremony announced on Tuesday.
The Nobel Prizes are announced in October every year, followed by a traditional ceremony in December attended by Nobel Laureates, their families, the Swedish royal family, and many other guests. The Nobel Peace Prize is announced in Oslo, Norway, while the others are awarded in Stockholm. The festivities are held in Stockholm and Oslo over a week filled with events and various types of meetings.
However, due to the situation created by coronavirus pandemic, things will be different this year as social distancing measures need to be followed. This is the first time since 1956 that the banquet has been cancelled. The award ceremony for the prizes given for achievements in the field of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics, and peace were previously cancelled during World War I and II.
Lars Heikensten, CEO of the Nobel Foundation, said that it is not possible to gather up to 1,300 banquet guests and let them sit next to each other amid the current COVID-19 restrictions. He added that the pandemic also makes it uncertain whether prize winners can travel to Sweden.
"Nobel Week will not be as usual due to the current pandemic. This is a very special year when everyone has to make sacrifices and adapt to completely new circumstances but we will pay different attention to the prize winners, their discoveries and works," Heikensten said.
Even though the traditional festivities have been cancelled, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize and Nobel Prizes will still take place on December 10 in Oslo and Stockholm in accordance with social distancing measures. The Nobel Prize Foundation said in a press release that the ceremonies will be held using "new formats that both comply with social distancing restrictions and take into account that only some or perhaps no Laureates will participate on site."
The recipients for the prestigious award ceremony will be announced as per the usual schedule, this year between Oct. 5 to Oct.12. "There are also plans to hold the public events – Nobel Calling Stockholm –which will take place at the Nobel Prize Museum and other venues around Stockholm, in alternative formats to comply with social distancing restrictions during the announcement week," the statement by the foundation further reads.
King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway attend the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony with the rest of the Swedish royal family, and some of them are expected to be in attendance this year as well.