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As Olympics wind down, medal-worthy travel mishaps abound

With the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics just days away, the last two weeks have given us scenes that celebrate human achievement at its highest: Gabby Douglas winning the women’s all-around gymnastic title. Usain Bolt running faster than any human ever has. Michael Phelps earning more Olympic hardware — six medals this year alone, 22 since 2004 — than most countries.

If only travelers could be as laudable. Instead, the last few weeks have given us a parade of people whose rude and/or stupid behavior can only be described as Olympian and who, therefore, deserve medals of their own.

Cue the “Olympic Fanfare,” although the theme song from “The Three Stooges” might be more appropriate:


Bronze
To achieve greatness, you have to have a bit of an outsized ego. How else to explain the Australian couple who refused to fly on a recent Qantas flight because the plane had run out of the plush pajamas that came standard with their first class seats? When business class jammies wouldn't do, they disembarked, notes the Herald Sun, causing the other 400 or so passengers to sit and wait while their luggage was also removed.

An Overhead Bin bronze medal and a set of Olympic-logo pajamas are on their way.

Silver
Since no Olympics is complete without a drug scandal, we’re awarding the silver medal to Rogelio Mauricio Harris of Long Beach, Calif. According to the NY Daily News, Harris was busted at LAX last week for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Stupidity aside, you have to admire his creativity as he allegedly shaped the four pounds of meth into 45 small bars, coated them in a chocolate-like substance and sealed them up in Snickers wrappers. All we can say is it’s a good thing U.S. judoka Nick Delpopolo inadvertently ate some pot-laced baked goods and not one of these babies.

Gold
Olympic-caliber athletes are noted for their Zen-like calm under intense pressure but for serene composure, it’s hard to top the Norwegian tourist who recently fell asleep on a baggage belt at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

As noted on TODAY.com, the man not only got a good nap but also a souvenir — an X-ray of himself curled up in the fetal position, still clutching one of the many beers that prompted his trip in the first place.

TODAY's Natalie Morales explains how a tipsy tourist fell asleep on an airport luggage belt during a layover in Rome, which carried him to an X-ray machine that captured him clutching his beer.

And, finally, a nod to the folks at VietJet, a Vietnamese airline that was recently taken to task for putting on a show in which bikini-clad beauty queens shimmied their way down a plane’s aisle. The three-minute show earned the airline a fine, although the video suggests that passengers didn’t seem to mind.

Who knows: considering that the opening festivities in London included a sky-diving queen, multiple Mary Poppins and a whole lot of sick children bouncing on hospital beds, there may still be time to get them into Sunday’s closing ceremony.

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.

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