But on Friday, the world's most anticipated sporting event, World Cup 2010, began in Johannesburg.
But the lead up to the event has been shrouded in pessimism. From the moment FIFA awarded South Africa hosting honours for the 2010 World Cup, some sceptics believed the nation could not pull it off.
Others maintained that hosting the event would negatively impact a country in which abject poverty is still widespread.
The event has, however, kicked-off, and everything from stadiums to transport infrastructure was ready. But what has been the cost to the country and what do South Africans stand to gain from it?
Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Ashwin Desai, the author of The Race to Transform: Sport in post-Apartheid South Africa; Steve Wilson, a sports writer for the Telegraph; and Ashraf Garda, a radio host and a freelance sports journalist.
This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday June 13, 2010.
Source: Al Jazeera