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The backstory: The Nobel Prize is an international award given by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s named after and funded by the personal fortune of Alfred Nobel, a 19th-century Swedish inventor and entrepreneur most known for his invention of dynamite. Every year, on December 10, the Nobel Foundation holds a prize ceremony and Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, where five of the six Nobel Prizes are awarded for that year – Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economic Sciences. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded at a separate ceremony in Oslo, Norway. These prizes can be awarded to individual people or organizations, and sometimes two people will share the prize in a certain category. There have been a few years when the ceremony was suspended, like during both World Wars.
More recently: In 2022, ambassadors to Sweden from Russia and Belarus were left out of the prize ceremony in Stockholm because of the war in Ukraine. But, last week, it was announced that Russia and Belarus (as well as Iran) were invited to the event. To explain this decision, the Nobel Foundation said ambassadors from all countries that are diplomatically represented in Sweden and Norway will be invited to the prize award ceremonies. The idea was to try to deliver the values and messages of the Nobel Prize to these countries, encouraging more “dialogue.” After this announcement, many Swedish lawmakers said they would boycott the ceremonies. They cited the war in Ukraine and the crackdown on human rights in Iran as reasons Russia, Belarus and Iran shouldn’t be invited.
The development: On Saturday, the Nobel Foundation announced a reversal of its decision, uninviting the ambassadors from Russia, Iran and Belarus to the annual prize awards ceremony in Stockholm. The foundation said that the protests by Swedish leaders had “overshadowed” the messages of the Nobel Prize. Ukrainian officials approved this decision and also pushed for the reps from Russia and Belarus to be barred from the separate Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which handles the Nobel Peace Prize, still wants to follow its usual plan, inviting all ambassadors to the Oslo ceremony.
“The world is increasingly divided into spheres, where dialogue between those with differing views is being reduced,” Vidar Helgesen, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, had initially announced last week. “To counter this tendency, we are now broadening our invitations.”
"We recognize the strong reactions in Sweden," the foundation said in a statement on Saturday. "We, therefore, choose to repeat last year's exception to regular practice – that is, to not invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus, and Iran to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm."
"The Committee wishes the government authorities in every country officially represented in Norway to have the opportunity to take part in the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony and to familiarize themselves with the Nobel Peace Prize laureates' important message," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said to the AP in a statement. "This applies not least to countries with an authoritarian regime which wage war against other countries or against their own population, and which our Peace Prize laureates oppose."