Nobel prize ceremonies forgo ‘the magic’ because of Covid
OSLO, Dec 10, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Forget lavish banquets and glittering
ceremonies attended by royals wearing tiaras: the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize will
be presented to the World Food Programme (WFP) in more austere fashion online
on Thursday because of Covid-19.
“This year has been difficult for us, as it has been for many others as
well,” the director of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, told AFP on the
eve of the ceremony.
“It’s a shame that the laureate misses out on the usual magic but there’s
nothing we can do about that.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Nobel officials to scale back the
traditional festivities to a bare minimum, both in Oslo where the Peace Prize
is announced and presented, and in Stockholm, which is home to the prizes for
medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics.
As a result, WFP executive director David Beasley will be presented the
Nobel gold medal and diploma at the organisation’s Rome headquarters in a
ceremony broadcast online at 1 pm (1200 GMT).
The WFP, founded in 1961, was honoured with the prestigious award for its
efforts “to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”, Nobel
committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said when she announced the winner
on October 9.
The largest humanitarian organisation fighting famine, the UN agency feeds
tens of millions of people each year — 97 million last year — across all
“Every one of the 690 million hungry people in the world today has the
right to live peacefully and without hunger,” the WFP wrote on Twitter this
– First time since 1976 –
The Nobels are traditionally presented on December 10, the anniversary of
the 1896 death of prize founder Alfred Nobel, a Swedish scientist and
The Oslo celebration is known for its lush floral arrangements at City
Hall, musical interludes, special guests from Hollywood and royalty, and a
highly anticipated Nobel acceptance speech, all followed by a fancy banquet.
But Thursday’s ceremony will be a simple online affair.
In order to respect restrictions on contacts, only Reiss-Andersen as the
head of the five-member Nobel committee will take part, and she will be
online from inside the walls of the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
Beasley will instead make a visit to the Norwegian capital sometime in
The last time the Peace Prize ceremony was scrapped was in 1976, when the
award was “reserved” until the following year owing to a lack of suitable
– The bright side –
Despite the scaled-back format, Njolstad tried to see things from the
bright side. “It’s very possible that, paradoxically, more people than usual
will watch the prize ceremony since we’ve gone to so much effort to be
present online,” he said. The ceremony will be broadcast on the WFP’s
Facebook page, YouTube and the Nobel Prize website, among others.
Meanwhile in Stockholm, the extravagant festivities have also been
cancelled, replaced by events mostly pre-recorded for an online broadcast on
US poet Louise Gluck received her Nobel Literature Prize in a private
ceremony at her home in Massachusetts on Sunday, followed by separate events
for the other winners in their cities of residence in recent days.
Stockholm will nonetheless hold a ceremony, albeit with no audience or
laureates, at City Hall on Thursday, also broadcast online.
The head of the Nobel Foundation and members of the various prize
committees will make speeches, interspersed with pre-recorded musical
performances and footage of the laureates receiving their diplomas and
This is the first time since World War II that the Stockholm celebrations
— which include a gala banquet attended by the royal family — have been