Nobel laureates receive prizes at home amid pandemic

Published December 7, 2020, 8:28 PM

by Agence France-Presse

Adjusting to a world where travel is hampered by the pandemic, this year’s Nobel laureates will receive their prizes at home this week following the cancellation of the traditional Stockholm and Oslo ceremonies.

Stockholms city hall is lit up on December 5, 2020, with projections of images from and inspired by outer space, past of a series of installations across the Swedish capital celebrating discoveries awarded the Nobel Prize. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The awards in the six categories were announced in nearly typical fashion in October, albeit with fewer reporters in physical attendance.

However, none of the winners will travel to Stockholm or Oslo to receive their diplomas and medals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ceremonies are traditionally held on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of the prize’s founder, Swedish entrepeneur and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel.

The lavish Stockholm ceremony hasn’t been cancelled since World War II, and the last time the Oslo ceremony was scrapped was in 1976 when the peace prize was “reserved” until the following year owing to a lack of suitable nominations.

First out to accept her Nobel this year will be France’s Emmanuelle Charpentier, the co-laureate in chemistry who will take part in a ceremony on Monday evening with the Swedish ambassador in Berlin.

Her co-laureate Jennifer Doudna will receive the honours at a ceremony in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday.

The west coast US state will also see economics winners Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson get their awards in Palo Alto on Tuesday and physics laureate Andrea Ghez receive her prize in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The two other physics winners, Roger Penrose and Reinhard Genzel, will accept their prizes in London and Munich on Tuesday.

Medicine laureates Harvey Alter and Charles Rice will receive their prizes at Swedish diplomatic missions in Washington and New York.

New York poet Louise Gluck will accept her literature prize at her home, as will Briton Michael Houghton, who shared the medicine prize and lives in Canada.

The prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, which is normally handed out in Norway’s capital Oslo, will be presented in Rome on Thursday to World Food Programme executive director David Beasley at a ceremony broadcast online.

In lieu of the traditional ceremony in Stockholm, which is normally followed by a lavish royal banquet, a ceremony broadcast live without an audience will be held in Stockholm’s city hall on Thursday, including a concert and videos of the awards being handed out.

The festivities conclude a week of lectures and speeches by the laureates, held online this year. 

 
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