South Africa's Olympic committee president Gideon Sam has ruled out a bid for the 2020 Games.
South Africa's cabinet said it had decided that it was better for the country to consolidate the gains of the 2010 Fifa World Cup for now.
The country's Olympic committee had hoped to bid to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time after the World Cup had passed off successfully.
But the cabinet has decided it should instead focus on fighting poverty and delivering basic services such as water and electricity to all citizens.
London is preparing to stage the 2012 Games while the 2016 summer Olympics have been awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
The International Olympic Committee has kicked off the bid process for the 2020 summer Games, with a winning city expected to be announced in two years' time in Buenos Aires.
Italian capital Rome, which beat off domestic competitor Venice, has been named as the first official bidder.
It is likely to face competition from other would-be hosts across the globe, with Japan and various venues across the Middle East expected to mount bids.