The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in December will be scaled back this year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Nobel Institute said Tuesday.
The prize, which will be announced for 2020 as scheduled on October 9, is traditionally presented to the laureate on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of prize founder Alfred Nobel.
Unlike previous years, this year’s ceremony will not be held in the main room of Oslo’s City Hall, which can accommodate 1,000 guests, but in the auditorium of Oslo University, which can host around 100 people.
The banquet usually held in honor of the laureate the same evening has meanwhile been canceled outright.
In July, the Nobel Foundation announced the cancellation — for the first time since 1956 — of the Nobel banquet in Stockholm for the prizewinners in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics.
“We want to be in line with Stockholm and underline that this is an exceptional year: it’s therefore good to move the award ceremony to another location,” the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, told public broadcaster NRK.
“Secondly, we would not have been able to have more than 200 people in City Hall in a room that can accommodate 1,000, and it would have felt quite sparse,” he said.
It is also not certain whether this year’s laureate or laureates will be able to travel to Oslo to accept the prestigious prize in person, and the Nobel Institute is therefore also considering holding an online ceremony, with an in-person invitation postponed until next year, Njolstad told NRK.
The Nobel consists of a gold medal, a diploma, and the prize sum of 9.0 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million, 865,000 euros).
A far-right Italian lawmaker said last week he has nominated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, in honor of Israel’s agreement to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Two Scandinavian MPs said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump has telephoned to thank them for nominating him for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
“I was on my way to the stable with my daughter, when President @realDonaldTrump called and thanked me for the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Magnus Jacobsson, a Swedish member of parliament for the Christian Democrats, wrote on Twitter.
“We had a good conversation about peace in the Middle East and the Balkans. I wish the president good luck with the peace processes,” he added, posting a photo of a smiling Trump sitting at his desk on the phone.
Norwegian MP Christian Tybring-Gjedde, of the right-wing populist anti-immigration Progress Party, meanwhile told AFP he had also received a call from Trump on Monday. Tybring-Gjedde cited the president’s role in the deal normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Jacobsson hailed Trump’s mediation efforts between Serbia and Kosovo, whose ties have remained strained more than 20 years after the war in the Balkans.
Trump has on several occasions celebrated the nominations, appearing to make it an election issue just weeks ahead of the November 3 vote.
However, most Nobel experts do not believe Trump has much chance of taking home the prize.
And the Nobel Institute has stressed that a nomination is in no way an indication of support as thousands of people around the world are eligible to nominate candidates, including members of the world’s parliaments, former laureates, and some university professors.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.