The airports in South Africa will be at full stretch today as fans, teams, media and officials leave for home.

The FIFA World Cup which began a month ago has finished. Now the circus is leaving town.

Those leaving will have vivid memories of their time in the country. The security fear before the tournament was unfounded and the South Africans were welcoming and colourful hosts.

The best team won in a tournament that had a mixture of good and bad on the field.

The stadia built for the tournament were spectacular. FIFA knows how to organise a World Cup and they made sure that these stadia of the highest standard.

But what happens now, after the party is over?

This is a problem for all countries which host the major international events such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games.

Will the stadia which were needed for the event still be fully used after it has finished? The answer in most cases is no.

Will they become expensive white elephants which have still to be fed from local financial resources when the circus has finished? The answer is often yes.

The joint hosting of the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan meant that 20 stadia were required.

Some of the ten stadia in Korea were newly built for the tournament but were used for just two matches. After the tournament they were too big for local needs and some were actually pulled down.

The spectacular Birds Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games is not used fully today.

The decision to select South Africa as the hosts for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was both political and emotional. After its surprise defeat for the 2006 nomination by Germany, FIFA had promised to deliver the World Cup to Africa and although there were other African candidates, the only winner was going to be South Africa.

The massive sums used in building the stadia and infrastructure for the World Cup will only be money well spent if it can bring long term benefit to the country not just provide four weeks of worldwide limelight.

The circus has left town but hopefully it has left behind more than colourful memories.

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