With the end of apartheid, South Africa returned to international sports competition in the 1990s, most notably in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. South Africa also hosted (and won) the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup tournament, giving the sport—traditionally considered a largely Afrikaaner pastime—a major boost in popularity. In Johannesburg. Rugby Union is played at Ellis Park in Doornfontein east of the central city. The main stadium there can accommodate as many as 100,000 fans. The South Africa Open tennis tournament also takes place there.

The Johannesburg area has two venues for soccer, the favorite spectator sport of black South Africans: Rand Stadium near Turffontein; and Soccer City, on Soweto Road, which can hold 130,000 spectators. The Johannesburg area is home to two of the nation's top local soccer teams, the Orlando Pirates (popularly known as the Bucs) and the Kaiser Chiefs. The traditionally white, English sport of cricket has attracted new fans through programs to promote the sport in the black townships. Wanderers in Melrose North is a top-notch cricket grounds; Elhak Ovel, a newer cricket site, is located in Soweto.

Auto racing takes place at Kyalami between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and Turffontein is the area's premier horseracing venue, with events scheduled nearly every week.